If you aren’t familiar with the show, I highly recommend you check it out. Basically, business owners come into the “Shark Tank” and pitch their business to investors (The Sharks) who are all very successful in business. You usually see about 5-6 different businesses pitch the sharks and some side profiles on previous presenters and what has happened since they presented on Shark Tank.
Below is a list of ways watching Shark Tank makes me a better entrepreneur:
Hearing about businesses inspires me to get my butt moving on my own business. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure why, but I assume other people like me react the same way. I’m typically left with a feeling of “If that dude can do it, I sure as heck can!” or “Wow! Do I sound like that too… I should reassess my pitch!”
Hearing about both successes and failures help me assess my own business. There is always something to learn! Often times as “The Sharks” put the businesses on the hot seat, you hear about unconventional ways they grew their business or other secrets to their success. Those gems are invaluable as you can think about how they apply to your business.
2. Pitching Practice
Hearing and critiquing pitches is such a good way to exercise your entrepreneurial muscles from both sides of the table. When you cringe at something or think, “why don’t they know their numbers??!?!” it just makes you better at evaluating and preparing your own pitches. A good pitch applies to so many areas of life and business when you are doing any kind of selling. You have tell a good story, be prepared, and know your subject matter.
Throughout each presentation, I’m always asking myself questions like:
Would I be interested in investing?
Would I have pitched that differently?
Could they have done something different for a different outcome?
At what key indicators did the light bulb go off for the Sharks that they were interested?
There are many ways to break it down that are all very beneficial.
3. Deep waters of valuation
Every business coming into the Shark Tank has to have a valuation of their business in the form of 1. Amount of money they are looking for and 2. Percentage of their business that it represents.
Valuation is a tricky thing but it is very telling. I think it is something you develop over time by seeing many types of businesses, products, and their respective models and markets. How a person values themselves and their business is such a great indicator of their maturity as an entrepreneur.
Having a large valuation without proving much of anything personal, shows an entrepreneur’s blind spots. It shows they don’t see themselves and their business as the world sees them and they are going to be up against some harsh realities.
Undervaluing can also have some strategic implications from the presenter themselves (the guys/girls in the chairs aren’t necessarily the only sharks in the room!) helping the business position themselves to get multiple sharks invested or drive the price up. Beware though, it can backfire when the Sharks get a sniff that the business is being to slick for their own good. Definitely fun to watch.
4. Feeding the Sharks
When it comes down to a business the Sharks are interested in, it starts to get fun! Watching the body language, the order of offers, the teaming up of Sharks, the banter between the business owner and the Sharks, how a business owner holds up with a fury of questions and pressure… It’s all so authentic, dynamic and really fun to watch.
The show inspires people to dream. The success stories are great for the entrepreneurial spirit. How many people has this show inspired into going into business for themselves and following a dream? The show doesn’t give a particular blueprint to how this success can be achieved, but they show you many different roads and that it can be done by anyone.
6. Failure and Reinforcement Business Basics
On the flip side, the show does a good job of showcasing the realities of what it takes to succeed in the tank. If someone pays attention they should take away some valuable lessons. (I love to come up with new business ideas, and it’s so easy to get carried away with your own idea. For me it’s a perpetual reinforcement of business basics) Like:
- Know how you are going to acquire customers (which relates to user acquisition costs)
- Familiarize yourself with the size of your market (how big can this be?)
- Know your competition (who else wants some of the same pie) and why you are different
- Tell a good story
- Always know your numbers
By watching the show you are learning these lessons by repetition as they are reinforced practically every episode. An aspiring entrepreneur can they can save themselves a lot of time and money before they even start.
7. Thinking and learning outside your market
The variety of types of businesses is great. As a software developer, I am surrounded by mobile apps, cloud, software as a service, enterprise licensing… On the show, you really get to see business models of a food truck business or a child clothing line. I rarely think of distribution, manufacturing, logistics and purchase orders but it’s a great mental exercise. Who knows when it will come in handy?
The diversity of experience among the sharks is awesome. So many points of view, styles of investing, go to market strategies… Hearing about what is “hard” in certain industries helps you understand different strategies for different markets. How often can you hear candid advice from people that have done it before in a particular type of business?
8. Remember to be human
All of the sharks do so much to continue to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. They are extremely respectful of the time and commitment people take on to work on their businesses (regardless if they are working smart) because they know how hard it is. However, they will tell the presenter when they are doing something they don’t agree with or is just plain stupid, but never in a manner to crush or destroy the individual (aside from the Kevin “You are dead to me”, which is a little different)
Even if they don’t see the vision of the entrepreneur, they give good advice and wish them the best of luck and future success. It is a great way to show how supportive the entrepreneurial community can be.
9. Just plain entertaining
There are so many dynamics to the show that make it good. I’ve touched on many of them across both of these articles. Overall the Sharks really make it sing and the producers do a good job of vetting the presenters.
Enjoy watching! I’m counting down the rest of my week waiting for the new episodes!
10. Time with the wife
Having a good life balance helps my business as well. A major part of keeping that balance is spending time with my wife. My wife and I often have healthy debates based on the products and pitches. It is fun to see how each other analyze and evaluate the presentations (you definitely learn a lot about your SO). The businesses that present are mostly consumer-facing, so that makes it very easy for us to engage without any research or needing to be subject matter experts. My wife’s world is very different than mine as a nurse and the primary caregiver of our children, so Shark Tank provides a great medium for us to connect and for her to see aspects of my world as an entrepreneur and investor.