Mark Cuban’s Advice To Entrepreneurs – Risk, Energy, and Funding

According to online dictionaries, an entrepreneur is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

Well, I get a check for both of those. My past venture into the fashion industry was fraught with risk and cost me plenty. Now, I have little to show for it, save for a closet full of the most amazing handbags EVER CREATED.

I’m normally a risk-averse person, but somehow, when I’m on a quest to find the formula for success in some endeavor, I throw tons at it – money, energy, time – hoping to find the magical components. The problem is, when you invest in something you really don’t understand, you come up empty more often than not. Knowledge is power, sometimes more so than money, and that’s what struck me with this video from Mark Cuban.

The big takeaways?

Seeking funding for a new business venture is failure. It’s an admission that you can’t hack it on your own, can’t find success with the resources you already have, and need to sell-out in order to plunge forth. The question is, how successful will you really be when you are on the hook for millions of dollars to others who believed enough in your idea that you probably could have rocketed on your own first, albeit a little slower??

I never thought of it that way…

My latest venture is challenging, to say the least. And while I’ve researched the concept itself, I’ve thought many times about how I’ll pitch the idea to investors, how I can get into an accelerator, how I can get the attention of venture capitalists…all so I can command funding and leverage expertise from those who have already found success.

But after watching this video, I realize my mindset needs some fine-tuning. Funding is not necessarily the answer. Preparation is the missing element in my formula. It’s where I fell short with my first business. Not taking enough time to learn about the industry before jumping in, spreading myself and my resources too thin to be even slightly effective, not doing enough research in the form of focus groups prior to designing my products. It was a totally ad hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, throw-lots-of-crap-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks process, with no tried-and-tested repeatable elements. I had no blueprint, no measurable metrics, and no plans for future execution. So, what did I do? Hired a new, more expensive PR firm (which did squat, btw), designed even more products without customer input, spent more money than I could afford…only to land flat on my face with no answers and lots of anguish.

I never acquired the knowledge, though I did amass mountains (now they’re more like hills) of debt as a result. I could have mitigated the risk with a deep understanding of the business landscape, including potential pitfalls and competition elements. But not me! I’m an instant gratification whore, way too impulsive and impatient to waste time on LEARNING, of all things.

To my own peril. I’ve raised many a glass to that toast, regrettably…

So, Mark. Thanks for the advice. Knowledge is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. The more ammo you have, the more prepared you are for battle. And yes, it IS a battle. But winnable if your head is in the right place.

FOCUS!!!! And Then Drink To Your Success

I came across a quote from Lori Greiner the other day and it is flipping brilliant. For those of you who don’t know who she is, if you’re an entrepreneur, Google her. Like, right NOW. She’s the reigning “Queen of QVC” and one of the stars of NBC’s “Shark Tank” – the one they refer to as “the shark with the heart.” LOL. But it’s true. She’s smart, insightful and knows a good deal when she sees it but she always exercises sensitivity to the plight of the aspiring entrepreneurs that parade their wares around the tank. Okay, so clearly I have a girl-crush…

“Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist–while you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!”

See? She loves wine, too. How can I not be smitten?? =)

But this quote holds true for me in so many respects (other than the booze…LOL!). More often than not, I have at least fifty things going on at once. The past month has been particularly busy – between building up Author Navigation, blogging, editing two of my books and writing a brand-new one, my creative juices were leaking all over the place. My focus was…hell, there WAS no focus, just endless lists of to do’s and never getting dones.

Do you know what that means?

Potentially missed opportunities. I would have been snoozing on that glass of wine because my mind was full of scattered thoughts with no definitive paths to meet any discernible goal. A jumble of ideas is absolutely useless if you can’t flesh them out and apply the ideal amount of focus. Multi-tasking is all well and good but we’re best when we keep our eye on the prize. Remember that. =)

Eye close-up

Do You Fail Well?

Happy Friday everyone!

Here’s a question to all you self-proclaimed entrepreneurs out there – How long does it take you to get back on the proverbial horse once you’ve been bucked??

Check out this great little clip from Barbara Corcoran on the secret to handling rejection.

It’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how quickly you get back up that counts. And by “get up quickly,” I mean, how enthusiastic are you to potentially fall again? Are you excited to move on to the next venture? How thick is your skin?

Because if you continue moaning and writhing on the ground, you’d better choose another career path. Just saying. =)

Women Make Better CEOs…Just Ask Mr. Wonderful

Women make better CEOs.
At least they do to Kevin O’Leary, the shrewd and calculating entrepreneur of ABC’s Shark Tank. But this isn’t conjecture; he’s got numbers to prove it.
According to Mr. Wonderful, female-run companies offer him greater returns on his investments and quicker exits.
“If I want high returns with low volatility, that equals a woman.” You heard it here, folks.
But why? What key attributes make these CEOs more financially successful? Why are 55% of the companies in O’Leary’s portfolio run by women???
“Attributes that I have observed are that they take less risk, they are more goal orientated in terms of setting targets and meeting them. If they say, ‘I am going to expand capacity or we’re going to increase distribution in the next quarter’, they deliver,” he explained. “It’s not an intuitive feeling. It’s actual hardcore results.”
Less cowboyish, less rogue, more strategic…yes, I can certainly see the rationale. =)
However, despite their obvious successes, we still don’t see a lot of female infiltration within venture capital and angel investor boards. It’s still a very male-dominated environment but one thing stands out. Networking plays a huge role and if you’re not rubbing elbows with the right people, you may not get the opportunities and visibility you deserve.
Women have always been great at networking…with other women. There are so many groups and associations and advocates for females in business but they are limiting because they only provide access to 50% of their potential partners. That’s just not good enough. Business people need to be smart and forward-thinking about their goals and understanding how all peers and competitors operate will offer significant insights for how to augment company growth.
Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice. If you’re trying to run a business or launch a fledgling company, don’t limit your networking reach. Establish relationships with everyone who can possibly have an impact on your growing business. Learn how they work and use it to help shape your own strategy.

Who Doesn’t Love SWAG??

I’m a big “Shark Tank” fan. Love the way they refer to themselves as a venture capital firm on steroids. Well, maybe only Mr. Wonderful made that reference…in one episode. But it stuck with me…because it’s kind of true. =)

I love ALL the sharks. I think they each bring their own unique elements to the show and I’ve purchased more than a few products while the entrepreneurs are busy negotiating (read: sweating) the deals of their lifetimes. Quick hint…if you know you’ll be featured on “Shark Tank,” make sure your freaking website can handle the excess capacity! For crying out loud, that’s not the time for your site to crash from being pounded by prospective customers!!!

But I digress…

I came across a video clip of Mark Cuban’s 12 tips for entrepreneurs and while I don’t agree with all of them (specifically #s 10 and 11), most are extremely valuable and should be embraced.

My responses to Mark?

Swag is very much worth the money. Not because I’m a total logo-whore but because I know for a fact there are companies in Silicon Valley making money hand over fist and I’ve got their logo-embroidered golf hanging shirts in my closet.

Plus, LazerShark just secured $2 million in venture funding so…

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And never hire a PR firm? I beg to differ. While they cost a heck of a lot if they’re any good, they have the “ins” with folks who can get your company name out to the masses. Sorry, but nobody gives a crap about the founder of a company whose name hasn’t made it public. But given the right PR boost, the founder can write his/her own ticket.

Don’t worry Mark. I still love you. ❤

Shark Tank Needs To Invest In ‘High & Dry’

Wow. I just saw Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec invest $1.2 million for a 20% stake in a company called Red Dress Boutique. Daymond John didn’t get into it at all and clothing is his niche. Wonder why…

‘Shark Tank’ Sneak Peek: Red Dress Boutique Seeks $600,000

Hmm…just checked the website.  TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE?! Maybe Daymond was the smart one in this scenario.

I love innovation and the concept of angel investing. The sharks have fought over some awesome inventions over the years but this one? I’m not convinced. And I love clothes.  But I don’t really see anything unique here.  In fact…I kinda see a lot of things I’d never wear in a million.  Plus, if I actually WANTED to buy, I couldn’t!

I have an idea for you guys…

It’s called….wait for it….High and Dry!

I’ve got a bunch of clothes that I can’t just toss into the dryer. Some of my jeans and shirts are tight enough without being shrunk further. So I need to air dry them.  But a lot of fabrics become crunchy and stiff.  What to do???

Well, I came up with a new invention…a mannequin-type form that uses electricity to gently steam dry clothing items.  You dress the mannequin and can set the force of air depending on the type of fabric.  Because of the way the clothing lies on the mannequin, it eliminates the need for ironing and once dry, you just transfer the item(s) from mannequin to hangar. When you’re done, you just wheel High and Dry into a closet.

Brilliant, right?

Everything Changes, For Better or Worse

I actually posted this awhile back but I caught an episode of Shark Tank and I had to find it to reblog.

They say change is good.  Perhaps it is, in the long run.  But in the short-term, it is just plain scary, primarily because it forces us into the unknown. Always daunting.  Change can be exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time.  It can force us into positions where we need to take risks we were never before ready to face.  Comfort zones are eliminated, and new challenges may arise.

A few months ago, a friend and I went to see Barbara Corcoran speak at a local college.  She arrived an hour and a half LATE but I forgave her because her presentation was pretty entertaining and she left me with a quote I continue to use because it is SO TRUE – PERCEPTION BECOMES REALITY.

Courtesy of www.abc.com

Courtesy of http://www.abc.com

Early on in her career, before she became a real estate mogul, Barbara had a business partner/boyfriend who loaned her money to start a real estate business.  Long story short, he hooked up with the office secretary (also her best friend) and broke Barbara’s heart.  After some time went by, the couple unceremoniously announced that they were getting married.  Poor Barbara became the third wheel and finally decided that she needed to go out on her own.  Her ex told her she’d never be able to make it without him.  HA! Who’s laughing now, Ramone Simone???

Anyway, back to my point…

She did go out on her own…and for anyone who watches Shark Tank, you know that she is a monumental success in her field and a millionaire over and over.  Change, though unwelcome at first, forced her into this place. It backed her up against a wall and made her choose her next move, a highly lucrative one as it turned out.

Wrestling with change does not always yield such profitable results, but entrepreneurial spirit welcomes the prospect of an alternate reality – not like in Star Trek; I’m talking about a clean slate and a brand-new plan of action.  Who says you can’t end up like Barbara???