ABC’s Shark Tank provides free weekly tips showing what to do, and what not to do when it comes to raising investment capital to fund your business and your personal brand.
Although there’s nothing quite like the autonomy that comes from self-funding your business, in many cases, there may come a time when you need to raise outside capital to take your book, brand, or business to the next level.
Each episode of Shark Tank provides valuable ideas of the right and wrong ways, to pitch outside investors. Watching Shark Tank will also help you prepare proposals for alternative funding options, like Kickstart.
Tips for surviving your appearance on Shark Tank
Here are 7 tips for preparing for your appearance on Shark Tank, or when approaching other investors:
- Research. Start by watching the program Friday evenings and catch up with earlier episodes available on the Internet. Look for similarities in offers that were funded, and note how they differed from offers that were not funded. Familiarize yourself with the metrics of your industry and the relative strengths & weaknesses of your competition. Master a new vocabulary. Learn to speak using Shark Tank terms like scalability and barriers to entry, rather than empty language like passion and potential.
- Prepare. Train yourself to think on your feet. Don’t “script” your presentation; it’s too easy to be caught off guard. Plus, the initial presentation is just the starting point. Keep your initial presentation as short as possible, so you’ll have time to prepare your responses to the questions to follow. The Q&A is where investment battles are won or lost.
- Prove. Focus on the metrics of your business, not its potential. Offer concrete proof of successful execution to date. Nobody cares about how creative you are, how many patents you’ve earned, or how much you believe in your project. Instead, provide proof of execution in terms of cash flow, signed contracts, patents, and your true costs of doing business. Be ready to describe exactly how you funded your business so far, plus where and how you’ll spend the funds you’re requesting.
- Dream. Think big; make sure you ask for enough money to do what needs to be done. Not asking for enough money is just as bad as asking for too much money without a chance of being repaid. Not asking for enough money indicates that you don’t have a well thought-out and sustainable business plan. No investor wants you to come back in 6 months or a year, and ask for additional funding.
- Anticipate. Anticipate the awkward questions you may be asked. Make a list of the most potentially damaging, or embarrassing questions that might be asked…and know how to limit the damage when you respond. On the Shark Tank, you’ll be dealing with pros who know business and, possibly, know a lot about the business you’re in.
- Detach. Learn to separate your emotions from your business. Don’t take it seriously when investors don’t share your enthusiasm for your idea or you’re asked uncomfortable questions about your ability to manage a growing business. To you, your business is your dream; but, to the investors, it’s only business. Continue to be gracious, poised, and in-control. Remember that other investors are watching and evaluating your performance.
- Act. Be prepared to act when you receive an offer. Too many entrepreneurs get a “deer in the headlights” look when a potential investor makes an offer. When an offer appears, they freeze…and, often, concentrate more on what they’re giving up than the benefits of accepting the offer. Don’t appear on Shark Tank unless you’re completely convinced you’re willing to share ownership of your business with an investor. Know how far you’re willing to go, and don’t let fear of change cheat you out of a dream opportunity.
Is Shark Tank for you?
I can’t think of too many authors, entrepreneurs, and personally aware, brand-building self-employed professionals who couldn’t benefit from watching Shark Tank. It’s not always easy to watch, but it has raised my awareness of fundamentals and issues that I had never paid much attention to. It’s a gateway to a different view of personal branding success. What are your impressions of Shark Tank? Is Shark Tank drama or Business 101?
Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. He helps create successful marketing materials that look great & get results, and can turn any complex marketing or writing task into baby steps. Visit his blog to learn more or ask a question.