Although ABC's hit show Shark Tank might seem like it's all glitz and glam, the way that Shark Tank works is actually a very realistic view of what it's like to work with investors. It might be on TV and the investors might be a little bit more well-known than, but the lessons you can learn can carry on into any situation. If you want to learn how to pitch an idea, learn from Sharks.
Top Things Your Business Can Learn from ABC's Shark Tank
According to an interview with one of the Sharks, Mark Cuban, there are several different layers to the show--you have to be watching the ideas that entrepreneurs are bringing to the table as well as studying the Sharks, or investors, behavior.
Below are some of the top lessons you can learn from Shark Tank.
- Spend a lot of time on your presentation.
Immediately this has to be mentioned. This is a no-brainer when it comes to Shark Tank. You need to be prepared with every question answered about your business, but you also need to be able to sell it in your presentation. You could have the best product in the world, but if you don't have good presentation skills--you don't seem outgoing, you get nervous when answering questions, you don't present your product/service in an interesting way, etc.--then you may not get the deal.
I recommend writing down all of the basics about your business and then all of the cool or advanced features or ideas. Once you've done that, you can begin to ask questions about each item and then ask yourself how you can present that in a way that keeps the Sharks attention and show them why it matters.
- Knowing your audience means having more than one presentation ready to go.
When you watch Shark Tank, you'll start to realize that different investors care about different aspects of your business. Some pay more attention to the history of your finances, others want to hear something quick, some want to hear your goals and how your business will grow, etc. This means more than just having the answers ready--you have to think of it like separate presentations. Remember that presentation can be everything when it comes to investors, so the more customized you can get, the better.
Go through the process mentioned in Step #1, and then do it again with a different audience in mind. When you pitch your business idea initially you can try to stay more general and choose bits and pieces of each presentation to feature. If one investor seems more interested than another, then switch gears. You'll be glad you had a customized presentation ready to go.
- Set realistic financial goals.
This lesson can be transferred to just about anything in business. You have to be realistic. It's great to be ambitious, but when you're pitching an idea to investors you cannot try and oversell or overestimate. Good investors will be able to pick up on if you're overshooting your numbers, so set financial goals and stick to them. This will always get you further ahead than if you were to overestimate and come up short.
I highly recommend checking out this article from Inc. that discusses a few things Bill Murphy Jr. learned from Shark Tank, financial tips being one of them. As he says, just don't be ridiculous.
- Be able to sum up your business idea in 10 words or less.
This is a question that is asked often on the show, and one that often either takes entrepreneurs by surprise or produces a pretty terrible answer. Spend some time on this. Ask yourself why you are in business in the first place, where you want to go, and why it matters, and then sum it all up as best you can. The more clear and concise you can be the better, which is likely a big reason that the Sharks ask this question. It's a great way to impress.
- You need to prove that your business is practical.
Whatever word you want to use--practical, viable, sustainable, worthwhile--you have to have proof. Make sure you have tried your business out long enough to get some real concrete numbers and examples. You never, ever want to pitch your idea to investors if you don't have the proper experience behind the business.