Lesson from the Shark Tank

OK, I admit it! I watch Shark Tank every friday evening, or at least record it and watch it at some point future.  I think there are a lot of small lessons to learn from both the people pitching their business, and the feedback the sharks make on the presentation, their business plan, and their success rate.

1. Your personality makes or breaks the pitch – Be likeable, honest and humble.  It seems that those people who pitched a great product but had a shady side drew the largest number of sharks opting out.  Be who you are, and be honest.

2. You have to know the numbers – Walk into any pitch prepared to speak at length about the business numbers: Yearly gross sales, Manufacturing cost, wholesale cost, retail cost.  Its not just for shark tank that these numbers are important.  It is for the future of your business.  You need to have a firm grip on how profitable your small business is.

3. You have to know your market – Perhaps not total detail, but you should know how your product fits in the economy, who your major competition is, and what niche you are targeting for your product.

4. Tell your story – It is your story that is the best way of presenting your product.  That is where the interest is… that is the biggest marketing piece of your company and you need to be able to share it clearly.

5. Get your marketing act together before shark tank – have a solid marketing plan, and a splash suitable to the product.  Look at your competition to see what they are doing, and do it better.  You may have a fabulous product, but if you cannot market it well it will not fly…. people are visual, sensory – go for the big splash.

6. Be reasonable on your evaluation and request – How many people walked into that shark tank and presented a valuation of their company that is way off bounds, and were asking for money without a clear plan of how it would be used.  Ask for what you need, and be truthful on your evaluation.

7. Show your passion without being greedy – one guy was on the program with a wonderful and unique clothing printing system but made several comments about looking for a 6 figure income and an “LA Lifestyle”, which shut down.

8. Respect the time and influence of the sharks – they made it through rough waters and grew their enterprises through expertise, courage and daring… and their time, and expertise is valuable.  Speak concisely, be exacting, and dont waste their time.

I have learned a lot of lessons from that program.  Inside each of us is a kernel of an idea.  We make choices to either feed the idea, develop it, work on the process for developing the product, the market, the marketing; or we choose to leave the idea quietly tucked inside our minds.  Entrepreneurship requires a willingness to be a risk taker, to defy those voices that tell you that you would never succeed, or find every flaw in the plan.  Successful entrepreneurs find themselves pushing through seemingly great odds to break through the “i cant do that” mindset, and move to a “lets make this happen – its uncharted waters and we can do it” thought process.

It is not easy to build a business.  But in the end you are your own boss, the company is shaped to fit your product, and your personality.  And the freedom of being your own boss is priceless in an economy that holds many of us hostage to the wishes and greater good of someone else’s dream.

Can i encourage you to stir in your heart the dream you have, had or have not yet thought of.  The world will be so much better for your additions to it.