Five Lessons ‘Shark Tank’ Viewers Can Apply to Business

By Justin Beegel/ TNJ | 5/18/2016, 11:59 a.m.
As an entrepreneur, there are only two reasons that could possibly explain why you haven't yet heard of "Shark Tank." ...

TNJ-As an entrepreneur, there are only two reasons that could possibly explain why you haven't yet heard of "Shark Tank." You're either living under a very large rock, or you're hanging out under a very small one.

This TV show has done wonders for a few small businesses and, more importantly, contains some great advice for entrepreneurs. Some elements of the show are purely for entertainment purposes, but there are more than a few pearls of wisdom in the mix -- especially from Mark Cuban, who happens to be my favorite "shark."

Whether you like the show or not, there's no denying the power in the lessons entrepreneurs can learn just by watching. I'm always tuned in, waiting to grab a few new pearls. That said, here are five lessons that every entrepreneur can learn from watching "Shark Tank."

  1. Learn your elevator pitch. The sharks don't have all day to listen to a sales presentation, and this is a great example of what happens in the real world. Investors work with people who know what they have to offer and can quickly explain the benefits and rewards. Here are some key areas your pitch should cover:

Who your business serves: You must know your customer intimately, and understand why they need your product. If you haven't done so, create a customer persona to help you develop a clear and concise picture of your target audience.

Why your product or service is important: Even the silliest products and services have a certain level of importance, which you'll need to quickly convey. Think about your customers and their needs. Does your entertainment product help bring families together? Does your accounting software help small business owners save money on high-cost accountants? Knowing this information offhand is the key to quickly landing an investor, a partnership or other business opportunities.

What you've accomplished so far: No one is interested in how you started building with Legos at age 3, but you should have a brief rundown of what your business has accomplished thus far. This could be anything from receiving an award to helping your local Head Start class obtain tablets for students. Perhaps your company helped raise funds for a nonprofit. If it's good news, it's noteworthy and has a place in your initial pitch.

Your numbers: If you're on team Mr. Wonderful (aka Kevin O'Leary), then this one is for you. The numbers are often considered the most important part of your business. There are several financial aspects that you should be able to recite at a moment's notice, including quarterly and yearly revenue, cost of goods sold (COGS) and your company's valuation.

  1. Market your unique value proposition. If you're coming out with a new line of plastic food containers, you probably won't do so well with companies like Tupperware and Hefty cornering the market. When you're in competition with the big fish, you have to market your unique value proposition (UVP). In other words, explain why you're not just another "Joe Schmo" with the same items as everyone else.

  2. Test your market. Whether you're using a tool like Google Keyword search results, or an actual face-to-face survey, it's important to test the market before stepping on the gas. You don't need a large budget to test the market. These five methods can do wonders for your research: