Monday, January 21, 2013

Business Sense (Or, Things I Learned from Watching Shark Tank)

BFF M introduced me to a show called Shark Tank last year. It's a reality show where people come in and pitch their business idea to a panel of successful entrepreneurs (like FUBU's Daymond John and, in later seasons, Mark Cuban)--the "sharks." After asking their questions and determining the worth of the business, the entreps may or may not offer to invest.

I honestly don't have dreams of owning a business empire, just one that gives me an extra source of income or, if I'm lucky (and smart), allows me to be financially independent. I'm way behind on the Shark Tank episodes, but the ones I have seen have taught me a few things about business. 
  1. Know your worth. Some people come in asking for an unrealistic amount and miss out on an opportunity because they base their valuation on potential (a number that is yet to be proven) or need (how much is necessary to start something), and not on the actual worth of a business. 
  2. You need something proprietary. Best if you own the rights to a great idea/start-up business already. Otherwise, you leave yourself vulnerable to copycats and, consequently, lower the value of your business.
  3. Best if you have something that can sell any time, anywhere, as opposed to something that is seasonal (e.g., a great Christmas gift) or regional.
  4. Take criticism gracefully. Listen to what the pros have to say--it may hurt, but you can always learn something. If you were to pitch something to these sharks and you bomb, take what they said to heart. They're all loaded for a reason!
  5.  Know your stuff. It's tough watching people who go in there unprepared. You can tell that they're going to get an F on this oral exam. If you're going to start a business, do your research--numbers, cost projections, competition, market interest, and all that jazz.
  6. A "no" can still be a "maybe." There's something to be said about perseverance.
  7. Go after your dreams--but not at the price of your family's security.

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