If you’re looking for business inspiration, check out the television show Shark Tank.
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
Nothing in 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 tell.”
For example, 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
With budget 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 sales?
- What are your projected sales?
- How is the product distributed (online vs. retail)?
- What is the value of your company?
- What is your salary?
- What are your other costs?
- Is there a patent pending on the product?
- Can you scale the company quickly with a steep rise in sales?
Experts 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
Many 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 idea.
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 owners.
Every 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 losses, so you can do what you can to avoid problems before they begin.
The next season of Shark Tank premieres on Oct. 1, 2017, on ABC.