It’s pretty clear that the entrepreneurs on ABC's Shark Tank are the great whites of the business world. They’re cunning, successful, and they're not afraid to bear their teeth,
But these sharks are as diverse as the ones in the sea-- they all swam different paths to success. This diversity resulted in knowledge and experience that they're willing to share.
The sharks' advice is super useful-- pretty much anyone can benefit from it, including small business owners and startup founders like you.
Read on to learn from the guys at the top of the food chain!
1. Remember That Ideas Aren't Special
Remember that time you were stuck in traffic and had that great idea for a teleportation machine? That’s an awesome idea. It would be cool and useful. And it’d probably make you pretty successful. But did you get home and build a teleportation machine? Probably not.
“Ideas are actually the easiest part,” says Mark Cuban. According to him, the hardest part is actually making your idea happen, “knowing what you need to do and then executing on your plan and staying focused with it.”
If having a great idea was all it took to be a millionaire, we’d all be yacht shopping right now. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart is the drive and the dedication to make those ideas into a reality. Bringing your idea to fruition is a matter of hard work and focus, doing whatever it takes to make your product a success.
So if you’re planning to start out on your own, don’t expect it to be easy. Just expect it to be worth it.
How to Make Your Ideas a Reality:
Whether it's a crazy marketing idea or a dream of a totally new business, put your ideas on paper. Write a business plan.
Put up a website. See how people respond to your idea.
Take action in any way possible. Success does NOT come to those who wait!
2. Don’t Get Too Caught Up In Your Business Plan
It’s pretty common advice that if you want to start a business, you need to develop a business plan. But Robert Herjavec says otherwise.
Robert says, “When you start, it’s important to have vision, but … any plan beyond the next quarter is a dream.” At the beginning, things can change at the drop of a hat, and your business plan can be outdated before the ink even dries.
“Spend less time on your plan and more time talking to people who will actually buy your product,” Robert advises. When it comes to starting a business, cold, hard facts are your friend. You should spend your time discovering who will buy your product, what they’re looking for, and how you’ll get it to them.
Once you’ve grown, size will offer you some level of predictability. Then you can start worrying about planning more than a quarter or two ahead.
How to Start Without a Business Plan:
Just start! Put up a website, ask people what they think of your idea, hone and improve.
Get sales-y. Talk people into buying your product.
Learn about your audience. Do everything you can to get out and talk to those who might buy from you.
3. Hire Attitude
Speaking of growth, Barbara Corcoran has some advice for when it’s time to start hiring employees. Whether you’re hiring one person or 20, Barbara says to “always choose attitude over experience!”
It’s relatively easy to train people on new skills and processes, but there’s not much you can do to modify someone’s attitude. That’s why Barbara doesn’t even look at resumes when she’s hiring. “Positive people are willing to learn, eager to try, and somehow find the solution to anything they don’t already know.”
The person with the right mindset will add way more value to your business than just skill and experience. Plus, they’re just more fun to work with!
How to Hire The Right Attitude:
Read this post on how to convince a rockstar candidate to come work for you.
Consider your values and mission. Make sure any new hire buys into them.
4. Fall Under The Big Three
Oftentimes when you have an idea to start a business, it can be hard to tell if your idea is actually any good and if it’ll be successful. Daymond John has a foolproof test for this.
According to Daymond, a business idea is viable if it does at least one of three things: “solves a problem (i.e. helps you do something faster), satisfies a need (i.e. makes an existing product cheaper), or improves quality of life (i.e. medical devices).”
If your product or service can do one or more of these, you’re definitely on the right track. Great companies give customers what they need and what they didn’t know they wanted.
How to Test Your 'Big Three':
- Talk to customers who've already bought your product. Understand WHY they chose you.
5. Demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T
As a female business owner, you might encounter some roadblocks that men simply don’t. Entrepreneurs have an uphill battle convincing people to get behind themselves and their product. But women entrepreneurs have an even steeper climb through the world of business.
Lori Greiner has some advice for all of our women entrepreneurs out there. “Do not let any men put you down or be chauvinistic to you. Do not let that happen. Call it out and command respect,” Lori advises.
You know that you’re smart, cunning, and more than capable, so make sure others recognize you for those traits and show you the respect you deserve.
How to Command Respect:
Read books by others who have gone through similar struggles.
Don't believe what others say about your path to success.
Be a leader. No matter what, lead your team in the direction you believe is right.
There’s Chum in the Water
All right, now you know the secrets to life underwater. It’s time to get busy and start climbing up the food chain. We expect to see you in Shark Tank season 15!
Your Turn: What are your thoughts on the Sharks’ advice? Let us know!