What Shark Tank Taught Me About Starting a Business
After five seasons, Shark Tank continues to inspire, encourage and entertain. It's one of the few shows on network TV worth watching, especially with the whole family.
Throughout this past season of the show, I've taken a lot of notes about how to help people start a successful business, and I've watched as entrepreneurs come on to the show and their lives are changed.
To share the wisdom of the Sharks, I've condensed their lessons down into the six most critical things you need to know when starting your successful business.
1: It's not all about the money
Don't select partners simply because they offer you money. Money doesn't automatically equal success. It blows my mind how some entrepreneurs make it all the way to the Sharks and don't intend to take their advice.
There was an episode were two women wanted to do direct response TV. Every single Shark told them it was a bad idea, but they insisted. They also walked out without a deal.
Those entrepreneurs made a huge mistake. They wanted the money but not the advice that came with it.
One thing I love about Shark Tank is the Sharks often give advice that is worth, possibly, even more than their monetary investment. Building a business and choosing a partner isn't all about the money.
Choose your business partners based on mutual benefit and think win/win.
2: Kindness vs Weakness
Robert Herjavec is one of the calmest, coolest Sharks on the show. He rarely looses his head and he's extremely intelligent.
However, during one of the episodes, his temper started to show. While he never lost his cool, he said something incredible:
Don't mistake my kindness for weakness.
I love that! It goes to show you don't have to be arrogant, hot-headed, rude, or bullish to be successful. Also, you can be kind without being weak.
3: No Sales, No Business
When I started my blog, I really had no intention of turning it into a business. It seems like some entrepreneurs on Shark Tank have made the same mistake
If you have no sales, it's not a business – it's a hobby. It's much easier to sell your ideas if you've taken steps to turn your ideas into reality. If you're going to build a business, you need to do this one thing early and often.
While most of the guests on the show have some sales, every once in a while we come across an entrepreneur who has sunk thousands of dollars into a business with no sales. They typically don't get very far because they haven't proven that their idea is worth investing in.
Getting your first sale can be one of the most difficult things you'll do as a business owner. It can also be one of the most rewarding!
4: Money isn't the only factor
If you have someone sharing their expertise with you, you'd do well to listen. Kevin O'Leary (Mr. Wonderful) loses a lot of deals because the entrepreneurs don't feel he'd add any value other than his bank account. They'd be wrong.
However, the best entrepreneurs are the ones who walk onto the show with a specific Shark in mind who they'd like to do business with. For example, when Doug Marshall walked on set with Game Face, he knew Mark Cuban was his target. Doug didn't just want Mark's investment, he wanted Mark's resources, knowledge and passion.
When I look for people to partner with, whether it's a project or a podcast, I want to make sure they're going to add value to you, my brand, and lastly, me.
5: You can't build a business on passion alone
You cannot build a business if your only fuel is your passion.
Barbara Cochran told us the story about a flower shop she'd started years ago. She described how passionate she was about flowers and how she had a unique business model, but she had to sell the business because it wasn't working.
The upside to Barbara's story, was that if she'd stayed in that business, she never would have become a millionaire.
The entrepreneur who Barbara was telling this story to had spent over $120,000 and made less than $5000 in return. She was living on friends couches, but she had TONS of passion!
I cannot comprehend this girl losing $115k on a business and still insisting, against the advice of the Sharks by the way, that she was going to revolutionize the dating industry.
This girl also went three years with a busted website. What the heck did she spend a hundred grand on? I could have fixed her site in two hours.
Don't let technology get in the way of you sharing your message with the world. If you're ready to turn your passion into a business, this is for you!
6: Be interesting
Even entrepreneurs with bad pitches sometimes catch the Sharks' attention if they're interesting. By itself, being interesting isn't a strategy to move forward with. However, if you, your products and your business bring the steak AND the sizzle, you're off to a good start.
If your product doesn't gain the attention of the people who could buy it, they won't. If your service doesn't have people saying, “ooh, that looks cool!” it may be hard to sell.
While starting a business isn't easy, some entrepreneurs make it harder than it should be. I want to help you get your business off the ground and show you how to use all the tools necessary to make your online business a success! My online training series, “Turn Your Offline Expertise into an Online Business” starts soon so enroll now!
You can check out Shark Tank on ABC, Fridays at 8 pm CST.
Question: What's your favorite Shark Tank episode?