‘Shark Tank’: Mark Cuban Considers This an Immediate Turn-Off in an Entrepreneur

Mark Cuban is a sought-after investor on Shark Tank. With billionaire status and an NBA team to his name, Cuban has plenty to offer entrepreneurs looking for a successful partner. Yet when the tech guru spots a certain quality during a pitch, he keeps his checkbook closed.

Mark Cuban smiling in a dark jacket on the panel of 'Shark Tank'
Mark Cuban of ‘Shark Tank’ | Christopher Willard via Getty Images

Mark Cuban values self-awareness in ‘Shark Tank’ contestants

Cuban has invested in countless Shark Tank businesses after joining the show in 2011. Seeing more than his fair share of pitches, Cuban has identified one quality that is a dealbreaker for him.

“People who aren’t self-aware,” he told Kiplinger in 2015. “They think they’re the best and that they have the best company when it’s obvious they have no idea how wrong they are.”

While many aspiring business owners are passionate about their product or services, Cuban places a priority on staying in reality.

“You have to be able to know how others see you,” he said. “You have to be brutally honest about your strengths and faults. If you can’t be honest with yourself, it’s going to be very difficult to know what it will take to be successful.”

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‘Shark Tank’ deals that reel in Mark Cuban

With Shark Tank in its 12th season, the reality show has featured scores of businesses with unique offerings. The pitches have to present some groundbreaking bait in order for Cuban to bite.

“It has to be something that’s compelling,” the Shark Tank star remarked. “It has to be obvious why people would pay money for it. It has to be something that can scale to be big enough to more than return my money, and then some.”

The entrepreneur also needs to be fully committed to the process, and prepared to do the work required in building a business.

“It has to have someone who is willing to put it all on the line and work hard,” Cuban explained. “The person has to be willing and excited to sell to as many people as possible.”

How did Mark Cuban make his billions?

Cuban hit millionaire status when he sold his company MicroSolutions in 1990. Just nine years later, he landed a whomping $5.7 billion in stock after selling his company Broadcast.com to Yahoo!. Despite the financial windfall, Cuban was cautious.

“I never took anything for granted,” he shared. “I’ve had businesses that have failed, so I knew that at any moment things could go wrong. I never thought ‘I made it’ until after I made it.”

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While Cuban always tries to see the promise in a product or service, he doesn’t necessarily like to gamble.

“I was never a big risk taker,” he admitted. “When I started my first businesses, I really had nothing to lose. I was sleeping on the floor. I had five roommates in a three-bedroom apartment. My car was a junker. I had absolutely nothing to lose when I started MicroSolutions, so it really was never a risk. Today, I don’t step out of my comfort zone. I work hard to be prepared and know my business and industry first. If I’m not comfortable with it, why would I do it?”