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SXSW Takeaways: Five Lessons in Entrepreneurship from Hamdi Ulukaya and Mark Cuban
Looking for lessons on startup best practice from the best global entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey that requires persistence, hard work, and a willingness to take risks. At this year's SXSW festival, two of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of Chobani, and Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, shared their insights on entrepreneurship across two different sessions.
Coming out of the conference (and the fog of the banking crisis), I’ve taken the opportunity to share five key lessons from their talks and how they can help aspiring fintech entrepreneurs build better businesses.
1. Embrace Serendipity
Hamdi Ulukaya's journey to success began with a piece of junk mail. He stumbled upon the yogurt industry by chance after receiving a brochure for a fully equipped yogurt plant. This encounter led him to start his yogurt business, which has now grown to a billion-dollar company.
According to Ulukaya, "Serendipity plays a significant role in entrepreneurship." Being open to different possibilities and being able to see opportunities even in unexpected places can lead to great success.
As an entrepreneur, it is essential to keep an open mind and be receptive to unexpected opportunities. This can be at the moment of original inspiration, but also along the way.
2. Believe in Yourself and Your Idea
According to Ulukaya, "Believing in yourself and your idea is crucial to success." He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to have confidence in their abilities and to believe that their business idea can make a difference in the world.
Cuban also emphasized the importance of conviction in entrepreneurship. He said, "Crossing the line is a line of conviction or stupidity." Entrepreneurs need to have a strong belief in their vision and be willing to take calculated risks to achieve their goals.
This is key to take the first step, but to continue walking throughout the long journey.
3. Retain Control and Ownership
Mark Cuban emphasized the value of retaining control and ownership of your business. When starting a business, many entrepreneurs are tempted to give up equity in their company in exchange for funding. However, Cuban advises entrepreneurs to retain as much ownership as possible to maintain control over their vision – particularly early in the journey as the product is being crystalizes.
Cuban also emphasized the need to share equity with employees to create a sense of ownership and motivation. According to him, "By sharing the company's success with employees, entrepreneurs can build a strong team that is invested in the company's success." A motivated and invested team can drive the company to achieve its goals and become more successful.
4. Embrace Challenges and Diversity
Starting a business is not an easy task, and entrepreneurs need to be prepared to face challenges and overcome obstacles. According to both Cuban and Ulukaya, beyond facing (the inevitable) challenges, they can be embraced as opportunities to learn and grow.
Diversity can sometimes take investment to implement but ultimately create a business. Mark Cuban argued that by matching the team composition to the community can lead to more innovative but also realistic solutions for the ultimate customer a business is serving.
5. Be Patient and Persistent
Success in entrepreneurship does not happen overnight. According to Ulukaya, "Patience is key to success. Great things take time." Entrepreneurs need to be patient and persistent in pursuing their goals.
What will you build?