Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, a Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star, took to LinkedIn to offer small business owners advice amid the coronavirus pandemic.
His fellow entrepreneurs asked questions about how to keep the business afloat and put employees first. Here’s what Mark Cuban had to say.
By far, his most general advice struck at our shared humanity.
“In times like this you make people’s lives better,” said Cuban.
Many watched as Cuban reacted to news of the NBA basketball season’s suspension. As cities and municipalities cancel civil court cases, he thinks more will be suspended. One entrepreneur, whose business mostly helps military families move their pets, worried about having to pay his taxes, despite having a $30, 000 burn rate per month, and a business crushed by the travel bans. Cuban expects the federal government to move back the tax deadline.
“And I think it’s brilliant to slash off an hour here or there,” Cuban said of his employees. “You just have to find a way to hang on. Those families are still going to need to move in the future .”
Cuban also suggested small business owners to look for other services that can be offered locally.
“Something to keep everyone business and maybe find new lines of business? Things I’m sure you have thought about, but now have time to do. Good luck know it’s hard when you are responsible and care about your employees.”
Cuban also offered advice to small business owners who are worried about missing rent as people hunker down and small businesses are shuttered.
“Ask [the landlords] if there is any flexibility,” said Cuban. “Tell them your situation. They don’t want to lose tenants. They know you may never be replaced. It’s cheaper to work things out with you.”
Sales people had questions, too. They wanted to know how they might work through the sales and prospecting process in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Be considerate and compassionate,” said Cuban. “The best sales happen when you put yourself and the shoes of your prospect. Find ways to make their business better. Everyone is going to need more business. If you can get there and help them you will close deals.”
For those who do business in person, Cuban suggested alternative means: “Phone and online still work,” he said.
Many of the small business owners had seen a huge drop off in sales, and were worried about not having any revenue. Cuban advised:
“If you can find other services to offer. Do it. Since you have holes in your schedule it’s a great time to experiment with new lines of business and see what sticks. Hopefully this option won’t happen again! Beyond that I would start a discussion group with your peers and competitors. They are all in the same boat. Try to figure out the best way to reignite the industry. Cities will want to recapture the business as well. I’m guessing that the cities who are not hit hard may be more aggressive and have more funds to try to attract shows and events. And of course work with the promoters and stay in touch with them. “
He added: Everyone is in deep shit right now. So people who may not have been as open in the past will be far more likely to explore options and partnerships that kick in post corona than they were in the past.”
When it comes to talking to partners and prospects, Cuban advised honest communication.
“Always put yourselves in the shoes of the customer and their employees particularly your decision maker,” he said. “Realize they are just as stressed and freaked out as you are and if they aren’t they probably will be shortly.” Connect to them at that level, said Cuban. “Everyone is searching for answers. Deal with that prospect as humanly and nicely as possible. Your business got this close to yes because they want to do business. But they will stay with you because you are their port in a storm. And, also, realize what situation their finances are in. Are they in a position to do business today? If not , you will have to be nice, stay connected and wait it out.”
Cuban advised small business owners to reach out to their customers. “First the ones you think are most vulnerable then your biggest clients,” said Cuban. “Ask them what they are seeing and if they see any immediate impact in business. That will give you the most important guidance.”
Small business owners should be honest with their employees. “Let them know what you know,” he said. “Put yourself in their shoes and ask what they suggest. That is where your best ideas will come from. Third. Safety first. Nothing is worse than the feeling of having screwed up and negatively impacted your employees. It will haunt you. It’s the worst feeling in the world for you and horrific for them. Always safety first, but it’s more than just catching the virus. Everyone is feeling a lot of stress. Recognize that.”
One sports media entrepreneur asked what he should do now that no sports are being played. He also noted for people in the entertainment industry that they should work on content now.
“Put together something that is attention grabbing and sends your message and make it available to them online or via email,” he said. “People are looking for diversions.” Cuban said this is especially true for the sports industry.
“Everyone in sports is bored and has cabin fever,” he said. “The networks who lost games are looking for content. Find a way to provide unique entertaining content.”
Cuban suggested social media content. “Maybe come up with a way to have say IU have their players contribute content they shoot on their phones and you turn it into something amazing,” he said. “Maybe you create unique content from data that blows people away. Companies may not be willing to spend money right now or close deals but they are bored at home and might be able to find time to watch non sales pitchy content that is unique.”