Entering into its seventh season on ABC, Shark Tank has captured the mind, the heart, and the essence of the every-day entrepreneurs. With its gimmicky and visually tedious conference room setting, it is no wonder why this show has captured the hearts of the American public.
But what is so special about this show? Why is it so popular?
For those of you who have never seen the show, Shark Tank is a reality television series that gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to bring their dreams to fruition. In the tank, individuals are asked to present a quick five-minute pitch about their idea and their company in order to convince a panel of five successful business titans. After a series of questions on the background, finances, and future planning of the company, the sharks give their decision of whether or not they will invest their money into the entrepreneur’s idea. When more than one shark wants to invest in their idea, a bidding war can erupt, driving the price of the overall investment. On the show, the most notable and recurring sharks have been Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner.
When people first watch they show, they are expecting to see something similar to a “talent searching” scene such as those found in the Apprentice or American Idol because of its stylistic judge-like setting. However, once they continue watching, they see that the overall show is much more than that. It is both informative as it is educational. The dynamics of corporate business found in each and every pitch is something that is interesting and new to television. Beyond, the pitches and products themselves, the knowledge and attitude each judge or shark brings to every episode makes the show that more worthwhile. With over six million, this once pronounced bland financial cable show is and will continue to be a reality hit.
So why do we love this show?
There are three simple reasons why we cannot stop watching Shark Tank: the sharks, the pitches, and the negotiations.
While the concept of the show is intriguing overall, the variety of judges that are picked for each episode gives the show an overall edge for the viewers and the public. For these individuals, they are not picked solely on their looks or style. Rather they were assembled based on their resumes and successes. Having individuals like Mark Cuban or Kevin O’Leary giving both the presenter and the audience advice is something you will never see on any other television show. In addition, beyond the drama and banter, the Sharks themselves look to educate and advise the person rather than tear them down.
Beyond the outrageous ideas people have made on the show, the overall pitches shows ingenious well-thought out solutions that everyday people may need throughout their lives. For these pitches, the presenter aims not simply to sell the sharks, but also to sell the mass viewers. Because of this, the overall pitches become an entertaining concept for the viewers. It allows the viewers to agree or disagree with the sharks and channel whether or not the product is viable in its market.
Probably the most exciting part of the show, the negotiations are the most memorable acts we can see between presenter and shark. Keep in mind, it is not the act of the individual getting the investment, rather how they are able to negotiate and whom they are able to negotiate with. In addition, this is where the business jargon comes to play where quick mental math of ‘valuations’ and ‘equity’ are clearly seen by each and every shark.
When we look at the life of an entrepreneur, we always use individuals like Mark Cuban or Mark Zuckerberg as examples for the overall field. In reality, the truth of an entrepreneur is not mentioned nearly enough. The reason for this is that our society craves on instant gratification. Simply put, we want things now and we want them fast. As much as we would like to see this type of change, especially for an up-and-coming business or company, the reality of it is that success (for an entrepreneur) will be a long and arduous journey.
As an entrepreneur, there really are no shortcuts or magic formulas you can do to make this type of turnover overnight. You have to work immensely hard each and every day until things start to develop. Below, you will find the six hard truths that every individual learns during their first year as an entrepreneur. While the lessons themselves are a roller coaster, they are ones you need to learn from so that your company can grow in the future.
1. Failure is Inevitable
Without risk, there is no reward. As an entrepreneur, you will be asked to make a variety of sacrifices. Whether that is your time, your money, or your life, everything will be put on the line if you are expecting to succeed. Now as much as you expect success, there is a high probability that you will experience failure at least once within your business’s life. Why does this happen? This happens simply because entrepreneurs are curious. Entrepreneurs pursue their interest and passion at a means to create an opportunity. As much as curiosity is a means to fuel entrepreneurs, it can lead them to failure. Take for example you are look into promoting a new an innovative product for your company. As great as your intentions were, the path itself leads to failure. When this happens, do not look at this as a chance for you to quit. See the failure as a way to set your new expectations for success. Learn from it and accept it as a way to evolve over the course of your career.
2. Expect Long Hours and Hard Work
While shows and movies such as Shark Tank and Social Network have displayed an imaginative world of ‘golden tickets’ and easy opportunities, the reality of it is that you will be expected to put in a lot of work if you are looking to succeed in your field. Remember, no matter what the name is or what the product, you company and your service is new to the market. In order to establish your ideas and your company, your work will never stop. To accept this, you have to understand that it is not simply the 9 to 5 where your only responsibilities are the task given from the powers above. Rather, you yourself are responsible for every decision and choice set for your company’s future. Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have attested countless times to working around the clock in order for their businesses to succeed. While you may not be running Facebook, the same idea can be applied here.
3. You Have to Constantly Learn
A successful entrepreneur will tell you that they are never done learning. Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task that can be learned overnight. In fact, in reality, we cannot learn success. Rather much of it can be attributed from trial-and-error decisions. When you are working to build your company, you will find that you will have no free time to spare. Much of your time, if any, will be spent learning how to improve your network, market, or finance your company at the most optimum and effective way. This ability to ask questions, understand the answers, and absorb the necessary skills will be the ace up your sleeve.
4. The Trials and Tribulations of Marketing
When we think of marketing, we think immediately of getting our name out of there. Well for those who have tried, you will find out that the idea of selling yourself is not always that easy. The best way to market is to focus solely on the product and service itself. Allow the customers to make the connection of how it can benefit them. This type of customer interaction will allow you to branch your product to the right demographic. Keep in mind that there is a cost to your marketing endeavors. Be financially savvy with your money. Find the most cost effective strategy that can set your company for success.
5. Strategy Does Not Equate to Success
The process of thinking strategically can be a challenge especially when you are starting your company. There are various avenues and options you can take lead you to your objective of establishing your company within its perspective field. As much you want to believe that your strategies will take you to your end goal, you need to realize that you will have to inevitably revise, edit, and change your strategy time-and-time again. This happens because, throughout the course of your business, things will change. Because of these unknown changes, you have to be malleable and adaptive to this type of change. Make sure you are able to keep up the pace by changing your strategy when needed. It is that type of change that can lead to a groundbreaking success for your business as a whole.
6. Focus on What You Can Affect
There will be a time where you feel that everything will come at you at once. As much as you want to slow things down, the life and expectation of an entrepreneur will always demand more from you each and every day. That being said, remember that you are human. The best way to handle these tasks is by attacking them one at a time. Focus your energy on projects or objectives in which you can have the most impact. It is that type of strategy that will allow you to get the most ‘bang for your buck.’
John Quincy Adams once said that, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” Having a great idea and assembling a team to aid you on your journey is the first step in creating a successful business. But what happens when you hit a bump in the road and morale is down? What if money is tight and the stress levels are at an all time high? The ability to successfully manage, inspire and execute your ideas is what will separate the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. As a leader, you will be required to make difficult and sometimes emotional decisions. Regardless of what happens, you need to own it. The best leaders are those that are able to control their emotions and make their decisions with the utmost reason and purpose. Below, I have outlined some key qualities that every good leader should possess.
A leader needs to be HONEST
Transparency or honesty in the workplace is one of the most important qualities you can bring within the work environment. This quality, often called company ethics, inspires confidence and respect within one another. Remember, you are responsible for a team of people. Instilling these standards in the beginning will provide a strong ethical culture needed in any working environment. Furthermore, discussing with your workers the overall place of the company allows them to see the value of their work or what they can to push it to the next level.
A leader needs to be able to MANAGE
In the broadest sense of the word, a leader is someone who brings people together and guides them towards a common goal. Anyone can tell a group of people what to do. But to be effective, to be understood, a leader needs to be able to delegate. The key to delegation is identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your team and capitalizing on them. This will not only improve the efficiency of the work, but also the culture of the team. It does not mean that they should stay complacent with remedial task. Rather, give them the opportunity to challenge themselves. The one person that can ignite that type of passion is you. Furthermore, with delegating comes logistics. Organization within management will play a large role with your job. Make sure that you have your own systems set up so that the rest can follow. Any derivation from your system can be incredibly detrimental the overall functionality of the team.
A leader needs to be able to COMMUNICATE
In addition to your goals, a leader needs to be able to communicate to every single person regardless of their position. Knowing what you want to accomplish may seem clear in your head. But to others this can be a different story. When you communicate, take into consideration the perspective the individual. Make sure you are able toe break down clearly and succinctly all of the extreme points in order for you to accomplish your goals. Be sure to also relate it to your overall vision. Many people want to see the end goal of their work. Going back and revisiting the vision as a motivator will be one of the most beneficial ways of communicating and delegating a task. Last but not least, be cognizant of the individual. There is a fine line between asking and telling someone to do something. Make sure that you are asking. Asking shows trust and understanding. Telling shows micromanagement and devaluation.
A leader needs to be CONFIDENT
There will be days in the workplace where the future of your company may be worrisome. But that is a just part of life; things do not always go according to plan. Part of your job as a leader is to not just put out the fires, but also maintain the team morale. Remember, you are their leader. You are the person that people look to when things are going array. By staying calm, composed, and confident you will be able to help the team feel the same way. Furthermore, own every decision even if they led to undesired consequences. Your word should be enough for your troops to trust you. All you need to do is be confident in yourself.
A leader needs to be PASSIONATE and COMMITTED
If you are expecting those around you to work and produce at a high quality, you are going to need to lead by example. A lot of the work culture can be impacted and cultivated simply by one individual. As a leader, your job is to an embodiment of your vision. Your commitment to your work needs to be scene each and every day. Even when times are tough, it will be your passion, your charisma, your magnetism that will push everyone to the path of success.
As an entrepreneur, you will find that the job consist of variety of hats. One of the most important hats, especially within the beginning stages of your business, is the position as a sales representative. As a sales representative, you need to have a strong, strategic, and communicative attitude when selling goods or services to businesses, government agencies, organizations, or consumers. Two main traits crucial for succeeding as a sales representative are a person’s enthusiastic personality and a person’s tolerance and drive. For the first characteristic, the ability to communicate with a genuine, or seemingly genuine, enthusiasm to others is crucial for sales. It provides a sense of trust and openness with the person you are talking to. As for drive, you will ineffably face a variety of speed bumps along the way. There will be many failures, but there will also be an assortment of successes. Having the ability to be cope with that’s ups and downs will play a large role in your motivation.
So what does the best sales representative look like? What can I personally do to optimize the best sales for my business?
There are a variety of different sales representatives that all share the characteristics of the two main traits stated above. While everyone varies based on personality and work experience, people tend to fall into the three main types for a sales person: 1. the Chameleon, 2. the Entertainer, 3. the Student
For the first type, the Chameleon, as implied by the name, is skillful at quickly adapting to a variety of different situations. These individuals are able to understand how the client sees himself or herself or would like to see themselves with the product and leverage this by creating a mirroring image. This means they feed off of the person’s imagination and bringing into something tangible. A good Chameleon sales representative is highly attentive and shrewd. Furthermore, they have strong mediating negotiation skills that are perfect when pushing your new product.
The second type of sales representative is the entertainer. The entertainer relies on strong, charismatic, and often times intimidating presence as an essential tool to close a sale. The Entertainer representative reverses the typical dynamic between the seller a buyer and convinces the client why they need this particular service or product. This aggressive type of personality is often scene more in the private sector such as banking, finance, or consulting. Most case scenarios, these people are often very successful and assume various managerial positions due to their robust personality.
The third and final type of sales representative is what we call the Student. The student is very astute of his surroundings and, often times, does his or her homework before meeting with a person or company. The student’s ability to desegregate useful data at a moment’s notice and analyze the overall background of a client is highly informative and effective of the overall material. As efficient as they are with their sales, their somewhat lack of assertiveness and leadership often holds them back from assuming a managerial position. Regardless, the student’s futuristic ability to strategically plan for a variety of steps makes this person a very strong asset for hitting your sale goal.
Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another. Although this is a simple definition, when we think about how we may communicate, the subject becomes a lot more complex. Your mentality and success rely purely on the idea of what your goal is for the overall conversation.
Within the business sector, communication is incredibly vital for day-to-day operations. To truly stand out with an employee, the manager or supervisor, needs to be clear, precise, and effective when talking, delegating, or presenting his or her ideas. Below, you will find key tips to help aid your communication skills in the private sector. Following these helpful hints will allow you to leverage strong efficient, effective work while adding to a positive and cohesive work environment.
Know Your Goals
Setting and reaching your goals is a mainstay theme in every portion of a manager’s day. Whenever you talking, whether that is in a meeting with your team or one-on-ones with an individual, make sure you there is a point or goal in mind. Supervisors often find themselves rambling on and going off on a variety of different tangents if they are ill prepared for their presentations. To prevent this from happening, internalize your goals for the meeting or conversation. Then revise and simplify your goal so that, no matter whom you talk to, you are confidently able to exert your goals for anyone’s understanding. While this may sound time consuming, this should take no more than a few minutes.
As much as people love flexibility and autonomy in the workplace, more specific and direct instructions can be more effective in achieving your daily goals. Many people can often get confused if you are not completely precise about what the task are. Any tangents or unrelated conversation, while positive at times, can often compromise both your time and your team’s success. The best way to avoid this is to communicate very precisely, usually step-by-step, of what you want to see at the end of the day or end of the week. This gives the responsibilities on the individual who should at that point then execute.
Many times throughout the day, you will find a variety of problems or misunderstandings that can be easily resolved from a simple one-minute conversation. Being easily accessible for your team and co-workers will provide a sense of trust and support that people often need in order to succeed. Make sure you are positive and personable. Oftentimes people can feel intimidated or unconfident because of certain misunderstandings with the work. Showing these individuals that you are there for them can greatly pick up morale and boost productivity.
Create an Online Forum to Share Information
For many companies and enterprises, having an online social network for which employees can communicate is an incredible tool. These social platforms, like Slack, Google Hangouts, or Skype allow people to engage and interact on various levels such as announcements, knowledge transfers, delegated task, meetings, etc. Utilizing this within the everyday operations can only improve your productivity. Make sure that the overall concept is used in a professional yet positive manner.
When communicating online, especially through emails, try and leverage the subject line. As stated before, be direct and to the point. Often times, employees will misread the title and will often delete or skip opening your email. Being precise about what you want in the subject line will clearly get the immediate attention of your workers so that things are fun smoothly and efficiently.
Mark Cuban is iconic in the world of business. He has successfully built and sold multiple businesses since his early 20s and is estimated to be worth $3 billion dollars to this day. Now as much as we can relish about his accomplishments with various projects such as “broadcast.com,” the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theaters, and even Shark Tank, what we love about him is his philosophy of being a well-minded entrepreneur. Many Americans try to live the dream of creating, operating, and managing their own business. But what they run into is the lack of drive and willingness-to-sacrifice everything to achieve their goal. For Mark Cuban, he believes in sacrifice, education, and long-term planning. It is these three simple concepts that have allowed him to become the self-made billionaire that he is today.
“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it all away from you.”
The one thing you can see from Mark Cuban is his control and focus with his work ethics. Mark Cuban has said countless times that, “you don’t start a company unless it is an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it is not an obsession.” This sacrifice of obsessing over your business is what he embodies every single day. He believes in this idea whole-heartedly and knows what it takes to eat, sleep, and work for success. In his early 90s, Mark moved back to Pittsburg and took a job with Mellon Bank. Having seen the growth that technology had over the past few years, Mark immersed himself in computers and networking. After leaving Pittsburg and moving to Dallas, Texas, Mark decided to form his own consulting business, MicrosScolutions, which eventually lead to the start of success within the tech industry.
Now the moral of the story is not simply to the idea of leaving a job, packing up to Dallas, and hoping for the best. Rather, it is about investing every ounce of your energy into something that you believe in. Just like Mark Cuban, successful entrepreneurs do not simply go into their business half-minded with an exit strategy already lined up. Instead, they invest as much as possible. Whether it is their time, money, or life to the business, Mark Cuban would simply see this as the real commitment to your work.
In addition to commitment, education played a large role for Mark’s success. For Mark, it wasn’t simply the concept of being paid for doing a good job, but learning and gaining the necessary knowledge from every job that he worked at. Many people find themselves in positions that they see as stepping-stones for the future. For Mark, every moment was an opportunity to learn and grow professionally. His interest of computers developed way before the $6 billion buy out with Yahoo. It began in Dallas when he was selling software. Deciding that it was time to move, Mark took those necessary sales tactics and knowledge of computers to invest him in the field. It eventually led to not just a success in the early 90s, but also a path to the tech world. Learning from every job is key to ones success. As much as risk and luck plays a role in finding the winning jackpot, the drive to learn, create, and grow will allow you to shape your business in the most positive way.
Now the last thing we learn from Mark in the entrepreneur world is to simply have a long-term plan. Yes, the idea of creating an online sports platform in the early days of the Internet would of course be a hit, but it wouldn’t have happened if Mark and his partners didn’t foresee the potential their idea had for their future. Having an initial end-goal to your business will be key to any success. It will spark the drive when times are tough. It will inspire the masses to hold everyone grounded. Last but not least, it will wake you up and push you to the best version of yourself.
Some people call it a calling. Others call it the only option. Regardless of how you put it, there are thousands of people all across the nation taking a leap of faith and starting their own business. This is a very difficult and arduous task that requires hard work, determination, and perseverance. But for those who survive beyond the bleak months or year of pain and failure, they will find themselves at the end of the tunnel reaping the rewards on their road for success.
Starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes a special kind of person to overcome the obstacles of failures and go surpass the ideas of settling when looking for success. If you are still interested in starting a business, here is a guide that will aid you throughout the process. These six steps will help pinpoint the dos and don’ts during the beginning stages of your journey.
1. Planning and Developing Winning Ideas:
The next big idea is what drives a business in the first place. Every business begins with an idea. The idea can be a variety of things. They can be something you are passionate about or they can be something that can change the course of everyday life. No matter where the interest lies, there is a way to create it into something great. Remember, Google and Apple didn’t just come out of nowhere. They came from products, or even problems, that have were the markers for their great creation. Once you have picked and assessed your idea, it is important to see the strengths and flaws of pre-existing companies within the chosen field. Understand their take on your concept. Figure out what they were missing or what you can do better, faster, and cheaper. Reflecting on those concepts will allow you to eventually market this concept into a full blown business.
2. Creating a Business Plan
Every great business has planned out the logistics and objective of their overall company. Remember, your company is a novice in comparison to both relevant organizations and competitors. At this stage, it is important you iron out some important questions that will later need answers when you full establish your business. Take into consideration these questions:
- What are your company’s objectives?
- What are you trying to do?
- Who are you trying to sell to?
- What are your goals?
- How much money will you need to start up? How much money will you need for the campaign?
- How many employees will you need to get this off the ground?
- What are you planning for advertising?
- What are your projections for month three, six, and twelve?
All of these questions can be answered in a well-written business plan. This plan does not have to be terribly long. Rather, the plan itself needs to help you figure out the path for your company and any obstacles you will need to face during the beginning stages once it launches. It will give you an outline of specific things that need to be done so that you are on the right direction for success.
3. Assessing your Finances: Determine how much you need to start
Like the famous saying goes, everything comes at a price. Besides your time and effort, there are costly expenses when building up a startup. Assess your business plan and identify how much you are going to need to cover these immediate expenses will play a large role in how your business is running by month three. Regardless of how much you have, you want to optimize your funds in the most efficient way. The idea of ‘stretching out your dollar’ will be the best mentality to embrace when launching your business. In the past, there have been many businesses that have invested much of their funds on unnecessary or frivolous expenses. By having a well thought-out business plan and a deeper understanding of your finances, you can leverage these expenses. If the expenses are more than you anticipated, take a look at commercial loans or investors. Make sure at this point that your business model is already developed and know what you will use that money prior to any investor meetings.
4. Registering your Business
When registering your business, make sure you have decided on what kind of entity and field your business is in. There are certain legal and structural logistics you need to file, especially in your taxes. Once you have determined the type of business you have, register on the SBA website.
5. Building Your Team
Now that you have established your idea, created a business plan, planned out your expenses, and registered your business, it is now time for you to think about the managerial aspect of your business. Here, think about the type of people you want and the skills they need to have to help thrive your business. If your business is for a tech company, you should be thinking about web developers and IT workers. If you business is for sales, you should be thinking of strong communicators and business minded individuals. Having a grasp of the people you want will ultimately put you at pace if growing your business.
6. Grow your Vision
Here is the stage where you have now established the team, finance, and idea for your startup. What you need to do at this stage is be a leader. Allow your team and company to run on a long-term vision and goal. Make sure you have internalized this goal so that no matter whom you talk to, everyone is on the same page for success.
Stay tuned for posts related to entrepreneurship and small businesses!