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Helpful classes from "Shark Tank" for entrepreneurs

The TV reality show is a crash course in business and entrepreneurship.

February
10, 2021

6 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

If you're a business owner, there is a very good chance you've seen the ABC TV show Shark Tank. If you don't have it, I highly recommend it. While reality shows are easy to write off because they are too dramatic and often staged, Shark Tank offers some valuable lessons to entrepreneurs seeking capital for investors. Many of the show's most valuable takeaways are thanks to the genius of Mark Cuban, a business mastermind and personal mentor of mine.

Network effect

The first important lesson Shark Tank teaches – and one that is not so easy for entrepreneurs to take – is the incredible importance of networking. The most successful pitches in Shark Tank were geared towards big brands like QVC and Best Buy. While some people are against these megastores, there is so much success when you coordinate with a large distributor. If this means getting a little less money upfront to connect to one of these networks, it will most likely benefit your business in the long run. Whatever you do, don't be leaning towards Walmart. You would be making a big mistake.

Related: Are You Thinking To Put Your New Business On Shark Tank? 5 things to consider before you take the plunge.

If you are a business owner looking for an investor and you have a very specific request for what you need, make sure this is your final offer. Nobody likes to give what someone asks and then let that company or person ask for more. When you get what you asked for, take it. From this point on, the conditions will no longer be changed. Getting someone on board for your product or service is hard enough. So if you get the coveted yes, don't change your request anymore. Not only is such a step unprofessional, but it also shows that in the beginning you did not sit down and give enough thought to what you need.

Have you considered setting up an advisory board for your company? That's a great idea. You will find on Shark Tank that, in addition to years of experience, all sharks have a huge network behind them. There's a reason retired businesspeople sit on advisory boards – they know a lot of people and have been in the game longer than many of us. When you bring these wise people into your corner, you not only open doors to other people, but you also give them insight and clarity that only come from hardened experiences. These professionals can also suggest investment ideas, branding, and key financial insights.

Related Topics: Why Your First Draft Business Plan Is Terrible

Research

If there is anything that you are skilled at as a business owner, it is likely doing research. You research how to build your business, you research your product or service, and you research the market in which you are selling. Why not do a little research before sitting across from an investor asking for capital? What you will notice about the Shark Tank is that all sharks are slightly different. The most successful pitches reflect this as entrepreneurs have done their research and know who they are talking to. When you have a meeting with a potential investor on the horizon, you will learn a few things about them. What did you invest in before? What are their tastes and inclinations? This saves you a lot of time and guesswork, and gives your product or service a better chance.

How deep can you go?

As with anything else, starting your business takes a lot of pushing and pulling. They throw out a pitch, they lower their supply, you reconfigure things in your brain, and they lower the supply again. In very few cases, you will go to this office, hand in your parking space and let everything go according to plan. This is why it is so important to know exactly how deep you want to go. Not only does it seem unprofessional, it also looks like you don't know the pros and cons of your business if you're not sure what to accept. Hesitation acts like ignorance and can lead to the supply dropping even further. Worse, you could accept an offer that is too low and regret it later.

Related: 5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Barbara Corcoran at Shark Tank

You, your brand and your product

One of the most important takeaways from Shark Tank for me is that you are your brand, just like your product. There's a reason the show makes such good television, and there's something exciting about seeing a person building their brand. We like to examine how you present yourself as well as how you present your product. This is incredibly important to both me as an Instagram influencer and as an entrepreneur. I am always aware of my appearance and how I present myself. Remember, investors are buying as much into you as they are buying into what you are selling. How is your brand reflected in your appearance?

Always remember that you are selling your product or service as it solves a social problem. If it solves a big enough problem, you will attract a lot of investors as they understand that there is a sizable market for what you are offering. If your product doesn't reach a large market, there is less interest. So ask yourself: What problem does my product solve? What hole does it fill in the market? When you have an amazing idea and it is one of a kind it is going to create a lot of buzz. Take a moment to consider what problem you are solving and how your business will make people's lives easier and better.

Shark Tank's main lesson? Listen. Communication is one of the most important skills for an entrepreneur. If you are turned down by an investor, you are not going defensive. Listen to what they have to say because there are valuable lessons to be learned. Listen to your advisors and your gut. There is so much to learn from those who know the game. If you've ever had the chance to sit down with Marc Cuban to discuss entrepreneurship, my biggest piece of advice would be to take notes.

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