How Mark Cuban Approaches “The Next Big Thing”
“Don’t Drown In Opportunity”
According to Mark Cuban, “If you are adding new things when your core businesses are struggling rather than facing the challenge, you are either running away or giving up. Rarely is either good for a business.”
A number of years ago, Cuban made a deal on Shark Tank with a woman named Melissa Carbone, President of Ten Thirty-One Productions, a horror attraction company. After the show aired, Carbone was overwhelmed with deals and offers to invest in her company, many of which were incredibly tempting. At the time, Cuban advised her to relax refocus and not make any impulsive decisions.
According to Carbone, his advice, “Don’t drown in opportunity,” resonated with her for years to come.
Cuban’s underlying belief is to ensure that winning the battles you are in before taking on new battles.
“Every one of my businesses has a make or breaks battle going on a so do yours. There is one battle in your business either that you are not winning or are battling to stay in front. In our film business, iť’s the battle to get people to theaters without spending more than we bring in box office. With the Mavs, it’s the battle of making our game experience in the arena and on TV so compelling that its strong enough entertainment on its own to draw an audience and make our advertisers happy. I can’t control how a game on the court goes, but I can make sure that if you come to or watch a game you have a great time doing it. On HDNet, it’s how to keep on raising the bar and find or create programming that out subscribers feel committed to and take ownership of. I can spend as much money on a show as a big network, but they are wrong 95% of the time. It’s not a model I want to copy. It’s the ultimate challenge to find a new way to get results.”
For example, at one point, Cuban faced the option to go global with Landmark Theatres. However, he also realized that the work required to focus on breaking into the international market would take away from his focus nationally. Consequently, he opted not to expand.
“You do not have unlimited time and/or attention,” he writes. “You may work 24 hours a day, but those 24 hours spent winning your core business will pay off far more. It might cost you some longer-term upside, but it will allow you to be the best business you can be.”
It’s often tempting to move on to the next project before the first one has finished successfully. However, taking a lesson from the pages of Cuban’s book can be valuable; instead of heading into the next challenge, we need to push ourselves to wrap up the challenges we’re already working on. Of course, the latest shiny object is exciting, and it’s much easier to move on instead of having the willpower to follow through on our current projects, but that doesn’t matter. Eventually, the novelty will wear off and “the latest” thing will be just as hard to finish as the challenges that came before. Again, its completion will seem far away take and other projects will capture our attention.
However, giving in to this trend of jumping to the next thing that intrigues us will leave us with an endless list of half-completed projects and hardly any accomplishments.
Whenever your attention is being drawn by the excitement of the “next big thing,” take the time to consider your goals, and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Remind yourself that at one point, the project you’re currently working on seemed equally enthralling.
By realizing what’s happening when these situations occur, you will quickly learn that often, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but is merely an intriguing distraction that will cause vou to lose focus. When the project you’re working on begins to feel mundane, it is our natural instinct to be drawn away by new ideas and the excitement of the unknown — this is why the tendency to procrastinate is a tough challenge to overcome.
Finishing what you’ve begun will undoubtedly make you feel better than simply getting started on a new project. By refusing to lose focus and recognize that the “latest thing” is often simply a distraction from your boredom, you’re already a step ahead.
Regardless of the sector, business owners and entrepreneurs have a keen business sense and are always vulnerable to the lure of a new project or an exciting collaboration. While this is a great thing, it also needs to be approached with caution. By allowing yourself to “drown” in all the opportunities you are faced with, you may end up failing at all of them.
Instead, by slowing down and refusing to take on the next challenge until you finish current projects, success is much more likely. Ensure the right resources and processes are in place, and that things can run smoothly without the attention you will undoubtedly have to divert to a new project.