Let me say right off that I love reality shows for entrepreneurs. I find them extremely entertaining, and I think they do a lot of good--first, by inspiring people to become entrepreneurs and, second, by providing numerous valuable business lessons. You can learn a tremendous amount from these shows about what type of investor you want and how to approach one: what to say, what not to say, what questions you’re likely to get in return, what preparation you need to do, and so on.

But you’ll do yourself more good by watching the shows than by trying to get on one, because the odds of being chosen are so small. There are thousands of entrepreneurs competing for the same few slots. You probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of winding up on a show. In fact, you probably have a better chance of finding outside investors if you spend the time you would competing for an appearance on Shark Tank or The Profit on your business instead.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand completely just how valuable the publicity of being on TV can be. If your business is already up and running, if you have a good product, if your greatest need is to reach a wider audience, you can’t beat the exposure you’ll get by appearing on a popular show on national television. It’s a fabulous way to introduce yourself to the world, whether or not anyone decides to invest in your business as a result.

But you also have to consider what you’ll be sacrificing if you don’t get selected, as is overwhelmingly likely. As I’ve noted before, entrepreneurs have two crucial resources, both of which are limited: money and time. You can lose some money and a lot of time chasing your 15 minutes of fame. Wouldn’t you be better off focusing on the immediate needs of your business?

From the July/August 2015 issue of Inc. magazine