Shark Tank: Lessons for Marketers and Entrepreneurs

Shark Tank Lessons for Entrepreneurs

A new season of ABC’s Shark Tank just kicked off on January 20th. For those who work in or near startup companies, this show alternates between fascinating to watch and uncomfortably painful. New business ideas from smart people = fascinating. Debating from your couch about which ideas have the most potential, who gave the best pitch, and which investors are making the savviest deals = fascinating. Watching green entrepreneurs flounder with unrealistic expectations = painful.

Because of this dichotomy, Shark Tank has spawned a lot of healthy discussions online.

Fox Business did a piece about the “Shark Tank Effect” – entrepreneurs who try to rush to market with one big investment (like some of the show participants do), but end up with contracts that they probably shouldn’t have signed. Watch here.

James Altucher wrote a long blog post about watching eight episodes of Shark Tank back to back with his kids. As a prolific business writer and entrepreneur, he has a great perspective on the show in general, but the fact that he discusses the show with his kids makes it even more interesting. Too many of us don’t think to do the basic math that everyone should do when watching a startup pitch: If you are asking for $100,000 for a 10% stake in your company, how much is your company worth? Read the full post on his blog or on TechCrunch. I also love lesson number eight – know what you are good at. His observations are dead on and it also applies to a variety of different aspects of the startup process.

But when it comes to practical advice for startups, Joel Brown’s December 2012 article, 10 Things Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From The TV Show ‘Shark Tank’, is my favorite. The most painful moments on Shark Tank are when the participant doesn’t know his or her financials inside and out. It really hits home how critical it is to understand your financial position and projections, and be able to articulate them clearly. The smartest presenters have already tested their numbers on other audiences and industry experts, so they know in advance if their projections sound unrealistic. This allows them to better adjust or explan why and how they’ll achieve their projections.

Have you watched Shark Tank with your team? What have you learned from it? What have you learned from watching others present? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or via Twitter @Zer0to5ive.