5 Sink or Swim Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Shark Tank

Here’s a look at five sink or swim business lessons you can’t miss.

Shark Tank, an American reality competition that premiered August 2009, on ABC is still going strong. The TV show features aspiring entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of potential investors. It offers a platform for all types of entrepreneurs, young and old, who eagerly want to fund their ideas. After five years of being on-air the show has reinforced a few lessons on how to correctly market products and services – and most importantly, position your business for investment.

Here’s a look at five sink or swim business lessons you can’t miss:


  1. Care About Your Brand

    When pitching to potential investors show passion for your product or service. Why do you like it? What problem does it solve for you (and others)? Enthusiasm is infectious; show why the brand matters to you and will matter to them. Tell your story to provide that human touch.

  2. Plan for The Future

    Reveal how your company will stand the test of time. “Every investor has their own criteria, but across the board, there are certainly trends in evaluating new companies that investors share,” according to Startups.co. Investors are interested in knowing you’ve thought your business idea through — carefully. To communicate your forward-thinking prowess, create an annual newsletter for investors to keep them in the loop of short-term and long-term goals. This will help build trust. Also, continue to re-invest in your brand. If you’re not willing to invest, why should others?

  3. Do Your Homework

    Understand your market based on geographic area and other demographics. Entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, suggests, “Everyone has got the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.” When it comes to marketing your business figure out which tactics work best: from direct mail advertising to email marketing, cell phone text messaging, interactive consumer websites, online display ads, database marketing, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, targeted television commercials the list goes on. Not every tactic will work for your business, but it is important to research which ones will.

  4. Learn How to Sell

    “Sell yourself to get ahead.” Cuban also says this is one of the most important lessons for entrepreneurs. He says businesses are constantly selling, no matter the type. He says to put yourself in the shoes of who you’re trying to sell to; and instead of selling your product, solve their problem. He notes, “Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service. That’s your job.”

  5. Execute, Execute, Execute

    Investors want to see traction. What have you done to-date? “Demonstrating traction in your business is also a great way to get investors interested. Investors hear many entrepreneurs talk about their ideas, but very few actually see them through. Signing up early customers, hiring key talent, or actually building your product by bootstrapping resources are all positive signs that an entrepreneur is scrappy enough to make things work even without substantial capital.” (Source: Startups.co)

    Many things are out of your control in business, but one thing you can control is how much time you put into your product or service. Become an expert on what your audience wants to know or do. Execute your plan; don’t just talk about it. Create both long-term and short-term goals, and make sure they coagulate. But don’t be afraid to steer things in a different direction if your original plan needs tweaking. And surround yourself with a like-minded trustworthy team.

This article has been edited and condensed.

Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry such as corporate leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture and entrepreneurship. Cordray earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Chicago. Connect with @robertcordray on Twitter.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article