While Mark Cuban understands that small and midsize business owners are facing uncertainty and hardship in light of the coronavirus pandemic, he believes agile founders will weather this particular storm and come out even stronger than before.
"We will get to the other side of this, but it won't be business as usual," Cuban said during a wide-ranging "Ask Me Anything" discussion on April 22 with Inc. editor-at-large Tom Foster. "There will be an America 2.0, and that's the greatest opportunity ever for entrepreneurs."
Cuban, who is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and an investor on ABC's Shark Tank, has been spending a lot of time lately thinking about just what that will look like. In mid-April, he was tapped to serve on President Donald Trump's economic revival task force, a panel of 50 advisers from many sectors of business who will help shape plans to reopen the economy.
While he believes the economy won't rebound this year, he says entrepreneurs can better position themselves if they're honest about the struggles ahead and communicate with their customers, employees, and stakeholders.
"It's OK to say you're afraid and that there's uncertainty," Cuban says. "Then you've already developed an honest relationship with your customers and they will respect you."
But whatever you do, do something, he says. Now's the time for action. Here are his top tips for how to not just survive this unrivaled time of uncertainty but thrive because of it.
1. Be transparent with the people who know your company best.
Particularly for founders on the verge of closing, Cuban encourages them to reach out to employees. "Your employees, in particular, know your business," he says, adding: They're the experts in your business. If there's an idea for how to pivot or restructure the company, it'll come from them.
2. Be open to major change.
You may find that your company's best chance at survival comes from an entirely different business model or product line. You have to be willing to accept change and be open to a new direction. "All it takes is one good idea," Cuban says. "I'm a big believer that when we come out of this, there are going to be small companies that blossomed because they had a different vision."
3. Go left when everyone is going right.
Cuban described the many daily emails he gets about companies creating face masks or testing products. "If everybody is doing the same thing, go where they ain't," he says. "Come up with things people aren't doing yet."
4. Invest in a downturn.
If you have downtime, use it, says Cuban. Spend this time recalibrating your business or marketing plans. Work on those website glitches you've long needed to address but never had time to fix. Also, now's the perfect time to spend on marketing, as pay-per-click rates have dropped across the board. Even if your company has a product that's not something people might want to buy now, they'll remember your company. "Build that base now," he says, "because the companies that are advertising now are going to look strong."