When Mark Cuban says he loves inspiring people — even kids — to start their own business, he can relate: The billionaire investor got his start with a hustle at age 12.
Now, Cuban has some advice for kids and teens looking to start their own business: Build it around “something they can do or a service they can provide to their friends, family, and neighbors,” he told CNBC Make It.
The topic comes up more than you might think, Cuban said: His favorite part of being on ABC’s “Shark Tank” isn’t how much money he makes from his investments, or even the platform he the show gives him. This is how the show inspires others to start their own businesses, regardless of age.
“I had 12-year-old children [and] I have 14-year-olds coming up to me and telling me how they watch ‘Shark Tank’ and it taught them how to start their own business in school,” Cuban told a local Denver ABC affiliate recently. Because the show goes beyond seeing other people start businesses on TV: Viewers also get a mini-business tutorial with every TV presentation, he said.
“Maybe they don’t have a business background, but you can learn so much by watching ‘Shark Tank,'” Cuban said.
At 12, Cuban himself was making money selling trash bags door-to-door in the Pittsburgh suburb where he grew up. “My dad told me the only way to get new basketball shoes was to get a job,” he told GQ in 2019.
Later, as a teenager, the future billionaire earned extra money selling collectibles, like baseball cards, stamps and coins. He once said he made enough money selling valuable stamps to help pay for his education.
“Collecting stamps is an amazing way to start understanding business,” Cuban reportedly said in 2014. “Each stamp has its own level of rarity, demand, price, and as a collector you have to decide when to keep a stamp. stamp it, trade it or sell it, and when to invest in a new stamp for your collection.”
In college, Cuban says he earned extra money as a bartender, party host, and even as a dance instructor. “I was a hustler…I always sold,” he said during a 2016 episode of “Shark Tank.” “There was always something going on. It was just my nature.”
This fundamental lesson in monetization is common on “Shark Tank,” where Cuban and his fellow reality show investors offer viewers insight into the basics of business in each episode – from the importance of strong profit margins to the ins and outs of royalty offers. They also highlight negotiation tactics and pitching skills, skills useful for MBA graduates and school children.
Today, Cuba is worth $4.6 billion, according to an estimate by Forbes. He summed up how his long streak of earning gigs as a kid helped propel him to success, in a 2019 podcast interview.
“I think I coined the word ‘side hustle’,” he said.
Disclosure: CNBC has exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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