It's not just for entertainment anymore: There are a number of valuable lessons from Shark Tank® for small businesses. The show features a wide range of entrepreneurs pitching their businesses and products to a panel of judges, whose tough feedback is often used as a catalyst for drama.
The show can help you think about your business from a new perspective. If you were in front of the sharks, would you be able to keep up? What would they say if you presented your idea? What would they see as your greatest strengths? Asking these questions can help you refine how you conduct your marketing and build your company.
There are a number of useful lessons from Shark Tank for small businesses; here are seven of the most relevant takeaways:
1. Don't Overestimate Your Worth
Your heart and soul are in your business, so of course you think you have the best idea ever — but is it really? A great product and amazing team don't guarantee success. Many entrepreneurs draft business plans and assign themselves a very high valuation, but they're often far too idealistic.
2. Do the Math
One of the lessons from Shark Tank for small businesses that will always hold true: the simplest components of your business need to be figured out before you can dive into the nitty-gritty of your product. You'll need to:
- Know how many people currently use your product.
- Make sound financial forecasts and projections.
- Calculate customer lifetime value and cost per acquisition.
3. Know Your Target
Who is your target audience? Why do they need what you're selling? Refining your audience will help you create more compelling marketing campaigns, as well as convince investors you're the real deal.
4. Get Some Proof
Make sure you have positive proof that people like and need your product. Anyone can dream up a new way to fry an egg, but unless people are willing to shell out cash for a new product, it may never take off.
5. Refine Your Pitch
Shark Tank is all about how things sound, and that's important. If you were to meet someone in the park, and they asked you to describe your business, you need to be able to do it. Write it down, get in front of the mirror and start talking it out.
6. Share Your Story
Many business owners charm the sharks by sharing their story and talking about why they're so dedicated to what they do. Business is about more than just making money; your business should also be a labor of love. If you are passionate about what you do, it will resonate with your employees, investors and business partners.
7. Go Beyond Your Idea
"Ideas are actually the easiest part," said Shark Tank star Mark Cuban in an August 2012 interview with ThePostGame. "The hard part is knowing what you need to do and then executing on your plan and staying focused with it." Ideas are a dime a dozen and they're not what makes your business special. You need to think about execution, not just the great idea you have.
As entrepreneurs, the true shark tank is your audience and potential consumers. They are your greatest allies and will serve as judge and jury in buying, rating and promoting your goods. Ultimately, you must understand your product inside and out and truly believe in it. Without a strong business story and likable, valued product, you're likely to end up as shark bait.
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