A couple of friends recently got myself and my husband hooked on the reality show, The Shark Tank. Five self made millionaires hear pitches from entrepreneurs and decide if they would like to invest in the entrepreneur’s company. It’s fascinating to watch how some of the entrepreneurs handle the Sharks.
Here are 3 quick lessons on small business inspired by The Shark Tank:
1. Know When to Stop Talking
We’ve watched one entrepreneur talk himself out of a $1,000,000 dollar offer and leave with a $90,000 investment… why? Because he wouldn’t stop talking. The Sharks asked him specific questions with easy answers. Rather than simply giving the answers, he continued to fill the air with pontifications about his product and why the Sharks should invest. As a result they lowered their offers further and further. In business, it’s important to read your audience and know when to allow for some dead air time. Whether it is a customer service phone call, a sales pitch, or a tough employee conversation, there are times when silence is golden.
As small businesses, it can be tough to walk away from any deal. Margins are smaller, deals are fewer, and budgets are tighter. On the Shark Tank, there are a few occasions when entrepreneurs who are offered a deal, walk away. Sometimes the Sharks don’t offer enough or ask for a controlling stake in the company. On every occasion you can see the agony of making a decision in the eyes of the entrepreneur. They want what is best for their company and the deals are so tempting. You can also see those who know their company and what is best for their company’s future. Those who walk away are confident in their decisions and in their company. You know your company inside and out. Be honest with yourself when you know you should walk away from a deal and be confident in your decisions. The right deals will come along.
3. Know What You Have
Some entrepreneurs come into the Shark Tank with a great idea, but very little knowledge as to the true value of their company and what they bring to the table. Often, the Sharks are interested in their company, but don’t give them a deal simply because they aren’t able to communicate the value of their company and what they bring to the table. Some small businesses have a habit of talking themselves down because they don’t bring as much to the table as the big guys. Don’t! Take time as a business to discuss all you bring to the table. Talk about the advantages of being small. Be confident in your offerings. Take time to learn to answer questions about your value and offerings with clarity and confidence. Customers and investors will respond to a small business who knows what it brings to the table and is confident in its value.
Have you seen the show? What other lessons can we learn?