You’ve probably heard of the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank” in which five of the world’s most successful business moguls evaluate investment proposals, and decide whether or not to invest. The proposals come from a host of eager entrepreneurs, all of whom have an “amazing” business idea and a dream to make it fly.
Now, the “sharks” have all have built multi-billion dollar empires out of nothing, so they know a thing or two about how to create a successful business. Over the course of the hour-long show, they listen to each entrepreneur’s proposal, and then they either jump in… or they swim away. As business owners, we can learn a lot from these sharks and the business owners they get involved with.
Be willing to give a little away
For the entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank,” an offer from a shark means a chance to gain essential financial backing, not to mention priceless expertise. You’re probably thinking, Yes, and wouldn’t that be nice? Sure, it would. The caveat, naturally, is that the investing shark requires compensation for their funding and their risk. This means the business owner has to be willing to share the capital… to give something up.
As the show reveals, the businesses that were willing to give a little way have gotten an exponential return on their risk. To see for yourself, take a look at this article from Entrepreneur which features the success of three such companies: www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/224405.
Knowing when to walk away is as important as knowing when to move forward
This is one of several key lessons we can take from “Shark Tank.” As business owners, it’s easy to become not just financially involved, but also emotionally attached to a business idea… and almost 100% of the time, the result is that you end up spending time and money on something that will never be profitable.
For example, let’s say your amazing business idea didn’t sound so amazing to anyone else, so you didn’t sell anything… and it’s been five years. I’d say it’s time to consider that you should walk away. Or, say you’re investing in shopping cart advertisements in an effort to drive brand awareness for your business, yet you’re not getting a single sale out of it. What should you do? Throw in the towel, and try something new!
When ego and emotion are involved, you simply can’t make smart business decisions. The bottom-line lesson here: if it’s not working, walk away.
Listening is key; there are elements of truth in every piece of advice
Another important message we can receive from the illustrious sharks is the importance of listening. It might sound like common sense (and, well, it is), but as a business owner, you must seek advice—a lot of it.
The sharks journeyed from the ocean floor up—way up—and they didn’t do it alone. They accepted help, sought advice, and absorbed information from people with expertise. That’s how they knew what to do, what to try, and what to walk away from!
Many of the most innovative and successful businesses began as small seeds (think Microsoft and Apple), and they grew, thanks to the collaboration of several people, which became multitudes of people. As business owners, we must put pride on the shelf, and turn into seekers of input, seekers of information. Do research, listen to your significant other and trusted friends, and watch what other successful people are doing. In other words, listen up!
Do what you do best
The business owners on “Shark Tank” who won backing from the sharks have something in common: they allowed outside experts to help them succeed. Instead of trying to do it all so they could keep it all, they were able to admit their weaknesses, hire out experts, and go about doing what they do best. This can be a challenging idea for entrepreneurs who are emotionally tied to their idea, product or service, or who are pinching pennies. However, once it’s been done, the sailing becomes much, much smoother, and the success comes much, much sooner.
Sharks are survivors
As you pursue your business dream, remember the sharks and their many lessons. After all, there’s a reason they are one of the Earth’s most impressive survivors.
Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.