If you’re looking for business inspiration, check out the television show
The popular reality show features entrepreneurs who pitch business ideas
to a panel of potential investors (aka the sharks). The inventors and small
business owners are looking to boost their business growth with an infusion of
funding and sales expertise from the sharks. Their 90-second spiels may soar successfully or sink
quickly during their televised pitch meetings.
The types of business owners who come to the show to make a deal range
from cupcake bakers and food truck chefs to clothing makers and gadget
creators. Some successful products that got a huge boost from the show are the
Scrub Daddy sponge and the ReadeREST, a magnetic eyeglass holder that stays
clipped to a shirt.
So what business lessons can Shark
Tank teach us? Here are four TV-inspired tips to help keep your business pushing
forward this year.
1. Have a good story
business is more powerful than a good story. When you’re selling, be sure your product
and message are clear. Marketing guru and author Seth Godin has observed that
“marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you
Shark Tank victors Melissa and Rick
Hinnant started women’s clothing company Grace and Lace with a touching
personal story and a philanthropic mission. Melissa learned to knit while she
was on bed rest during her first pregnancy. Tragically, her first child was
stillborn. From her deep despair came the inspiration to create a business based
on her knit designs and to use a portion of the sales to help build orphanages
for children in India (Melissa had done missionary work in India when she was a
teenager). According to success.com,
Grace and Lace has grown from $1 million to an impressive $15 million in sales
in two years.
2. Know your numbers
planning, there is a lot to consider. In an interview with The Street, Shark Tank
investor Kevin O’Leary said that the biggest mistake he sees people make on
the show is not knowing their numbers. You should be able to explain in a few
sentences how your business will make a profit.
On the show,
the sharks ask lots of questions, such as:
- How much does it
cost to make your product?
- What are your annual
- What are your
- How is the
product distributed (online vs. retail)?
- What is the value
of your company?
- What is your
- What are your
- Is there a patent
pending on the product?
- Can you scale the
company quickly with a steep rise in sales?
suggest that your business plan should include things like a break-even
analysis, a profit-and-loss forecast and a cash-flow projection.
3. Solve everyday problems
entrepreneurs find success by using their knowledge and expertise to solve
consumer’s pain points, challenges and needs. They may even discover a better
way to do something. That was the case
for successful Shark Tankers Phil Dumas and Lani Lazzari.
Dumas developed a way to unlock doors with technology
that could eventually replace the whole keychain with virtual keys for one’s home,
office and car. The sharks and consumers loved the
Lazzari developed sugar scrubs made from common kitchen
ingredients to ease her eczema. The 19-year-old business owner launched her Pittsburgh-based business,
Simple Sugars, to fill a gap in the market. Sales were steady but skyrocketed
after her appearance on Shark Tank.
4. Protect your assets
When you go
into business for yourself, you’re responsible for a lot—products, property, employees and even
unpleasant things like judgments brought against the business as the result of
a lawsuit. Failures, mistakes and accidents are not often featured on Shark Tank, but they can happen to the savviest
business—from start-up to well-established—should be insured against risks. Business
insurance helps to ensure that all you’ve invested in your business is
protected in case of a covered accident, disaster, disruption or emergency. Simply put, insurance can help keep
your assets safe. As your business changes or grows, it’s important that your insurance
program adjusts too.
A licensed insurance agent,
such as the professionals who represent Erie Insurance, can provide you
with invaluable advice to help you to secure the right coverages and the
appropriate amount of insurance. Your agent could also provide you with tools
to help you mitigate
so you can do what you can to avoid problems before they begin.
season of Shark Tank premieres
on Oct. 1, 2017, on ABC.