Loading...
You are here:  Home  >  Business Tips  >  Current Article

Educational and Business Lessons from Shark Tank

By   /   April 3, 2012  /   14 Comments

It’s rare for a reality TV show to transcend its role as solely an entertainment-provider. What’s even rarer is for a reality TV show to provide business acumen, an understanding of corporate valuation, lessons in intellectual property law, and tips about making potentially life-changing presentations for financial investors. Shark Tank has mastered all of these, which is why the hit ABC TV show garners millions of viewers every Friday night, consistently pulling in high ratings. So on Friday night when work is out, school is in session with your professors, the Sharks.

Since we started live-tweeting Shark Tank episodes, we’ve talked to hundreds of fans who use the show for educational value. Whether it’s by watching the show with kids to teach them about business, professors using it as a teaching tool, or company owners learning valuable business lessons, there are a variety of ways Shark Tank fans are taking the knowledge gleaned from the show, and actually using it in their lives.

We’ve asked fans how they use the show for educational value, and have learned a lot about how fans are learning a lot of business lessons. @EvaBaez, for example, says that by watching the show she learns how investors think. @MargaretGPryor echoes that idea when she points out the importance of recognizing your investor’s interests. Both women make great points, because seeing how investors think is definitely not a business lesson that can be learned in any classroom. Shark Tank gives the audience a front-row seat for actual business negotiations, and the Sharks are never shy about sharing their thoughts on the deals placed before them. Even more, once deals are made (or not made) the Sharks are often quick to comment on what they thought about the deal, the valuation, the presentation, and how that led them into making a decision to invest or pass. This type of insight is extremely valuable for entrepreneurs, inventors, and small business owners who may have to go before their own sharks to gain funding for their business. By understanding what sharks are looking for, viewers now know how to tailor their presentations to make even the meanest sharks hungry for a deal.

After a recent episode, @Britt_I_Am picked up on another valuable business lesson: the importance of being prepared. Undoubtedly business classes everywhere teach students about the importance of being prepared, but nothing makes that business lesson clearer than actually watching contestants in the tank who failed to heed this advice. This episode featured two groups of contestants who simply did not have all their facts together to present for the Sharks. While both business ideas seemed innovative and realistic, there’s no substitute for the solid preparation it takes to know your business, your numbers, and your plan.

A large part of being prepared is knowing how to play the numbers game. Likely one of the first business lessons new Shark Tank viewers learn is that the Sharks don’t mess around when it comes to the valuation of a business. As much as inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners sometimes want to factor their blood, sweat, and tears into their business valuation, the Sharks simply don’t see it the same way. Knowing your business valuation is about being realistic, looking at your results, and looking to your future. It’s about factoring in all of your costs (start-up, labor, production, manufacturing, distribution), and comparing those to your sales record and realistic projected sales. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that every business is a million dollar idea, but it does mean that a Shark is more likely to invest if you prove that you have the business (and numbers) know-how to take it to the next level. And securing a Shark’s investment is the crucial next step to taking a couple thousand dollar business to a $100,000/month business (just ask Daisy Cakes).

We know our fans are learning tons about business just by tuning into Shark Tank every Friday night! What have you learned from the Sharks? How are you taking Shark Tank business lessons into the real world? Let us know fans!

    Print       Email

About the author

Author

Carolyn is a 20-something marketing professional from Chicago, and she's been working with InTheSharkTank since August 2011. Some of her favorite past Shark Tank contestants are Litter SF, REMYXX, and Villy Customs. When she's not busy live-tweeting the show, Carolyn likes reading on her Kindle, exploring the city, and getting in touch with her inner Betty Crocker. Google+

14 Comments

  1. tom hodges says:

    my idea is out there ,but it 2 things , from 2 different products that both are applied to the same area. it also is 2 different lifestyles. one rides a horse and the other rides a hog . it protects and creates warm comfort . it is both used by men and woman . one is for cowboys and the other is for bikers . it combines a boring all the same look, with a look of a tattoo mean hells angel,easy rider ,grim reeper, im a bad ass m, f .. .it covers up whats not there and what is there ,it keeps it from looking like a three day drunk . it made my own by wanting to look like a cowboy in the big city but not be a red neck ,with a bunch of chollas . and i get a lot of woman coming up to me wanting to put it on ,and poeple asking were did u buy that at . i said one at boot barn and the other at a harley davison store . one is common and the other has endless colors and statements . but it will make a fashion statement and also set your own way of who your are ,and you will stand out but yet fit right in .. TOM TOPS TNT MY FIRST WAS A BLACK WITH A CHECKERD FLAG DESIGN ,BECAUSE I WAS INSPIRED BY MY 10 YR SON RACING ,MOTORCYCLES IN THE ADULT WORLD OF ROADRACING MOTOGP STYLE . CASEY STONER AND GOING 160 MPH AND DRAGGING YOUR KNEES ON BLACKTOP ON A 50CC TO 1000CC SPORTBIKE.. WERA.COM

  2. tom hodges says:

    NOW HOW DO I GET THIS IDEA OUT THERE BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE STEALS MY LINE OR TRADEMARK. OR FASHION BECOMES SOMEONES ELSE GREEDY PROFIT.

  3. LaNila Wong says:

    My kids are right that, “you’re smart mom but you are a bit behind the times.” My kids conquer their websites, photo’s, presentations and on and on. I’m just “Mom” and they leave me a bit on my own. So thank goodness for the “Shark Tank” to guide me through. Hey they have gotten the photography orders (LoriWongPhotography.com) but I have an informercial offer. So “Mom” isn’t too bad. But the “Sharks” have the funding and the know how to get me the rest of the way. Thank you Sharks for the guidance and the fun in watching “Shark Tank.” I love Friday nights!

  4. Brad says:

    Here are two lessons I learned:

    1) If you get what you ask for, take it. Mark Cuban offered one entrepreneur exactly what he requested. The entrepreneur then asked for more and lost the deal. No one likes to do business with someone who gets what he requests and then asks for more; it’s a sign of what’s to come in the relationship.

    2) Networks matter. The Shark Tank investors bring huge value in their networks. Daymond John got the sticker guys distribution in Best Buy as well as retail distribution for Nubrella. Lori Greiner is able to help the businesses she invests in get on QVC. When you’re looking for investors understand their networks and more importantly if they’re willing to leverage them for you. Ask about this before you sign a deal. Sometimes a deal with less lucrative financial terms is better if it brings the right network to the table.

    If anyone is interested, I also have 21 other business lessons from Shark Tank here:

    http://www.bradaronson.com/2012/shark-tank/

    Thanks for the great coverage of Shark Tank.
    Brad

  5. doris says:

    I will NEVER watch this show again!!! This man had a terrific idea (collapsable frame on truck) and he wanbted it MADE IN AMERICA to save jobs in OUR USA and to think youall wanted to send it off to Asia!!! HOW COULD YOU?? SHAME ON EACH OF YOU,BUT WHAT DO YOU CARE, GUESS EACH OF YOU MADE YOUR MILLIONS THERE PUTTING OUR PEOPLE OUR OF WORK!!!

  6. Karen Maeby says:

    I have watched Shark Tank from the very beginning – my love for this kind of programming all started with the BBC’s Dragon’s Den then it was Pitchmen and then Shark Tank.

    It’s been pretty sweet to continue watching a show that you’ve watched from the very beginning – all of the changes (sharks), the comments, the pitches and all of the business advice given per each pitch and discussion. It’s pretty much a free business class each episode.

    Watching this show has made all of the difference in the world while making my own business decisions in the small business I’m working for.

  7. Has anyone else noticed that the sharks hate 1) when people come in with an outrageous valuation 2) when entrepreneurs aren’t open minded to the sharks ideas? I have learned that if you want an investor you better be open to an investors ideas/suggestions/demands and valuate your business based on annual sales. Valuations based on speculation almost always flop. Only super sexy, game changing technology get the sharks to pay more than 1-2x annual sales.

  8. Kay B. says:

    I think it would be a great idea for local cities to have their own version of Shark Tank. It would provide a two fold service and definitely infuse the local economy. You have people with money sitting in CD’s, IRA’s, etc. drawing very little interest that would love to invest in something lucrative (not to mention exciting) and you have people with great ideas but no cash flow to get started. I invest in real estate and have done very well with it. Several years ago, I started loaning money for others to do the same and I make 12% interest on each loan. People are happy to pay that because they make money on the real estate they’ve invested in and I get a good rate for sitting back doing nothing. I bet a lot of you out there would have given the Copa Divina guy $100k and be very happy with the return.

  9. Anita T says:

    I love this show! I actually assign my online business classes to watch sometime during their six weeks in my course. They say I should try to get on the show with my book project, but stories about great Dads and their relationships with their kids is not edgy or exciting. 24 stories, three published and a dream for a cartoon series won’t sell in the Tank… All dads are not deadbeats…ATG

  10. Andrew says:

    Very cool, Anita. Looking for a little encouragement, eh? You may want to check out our casting information page — getting on Shark Tank’s radar is as simple as sending an email application. All the details are on that page. Best of luck!

    Andrew

  11. In response to Kay, I am going to do a local event, non televised called the guppy tank in orange county California in the fall and if it works, take it “local” nationwide. Checkout http://www.theguppytank.com.

  12. Andrew says:

    Wow Darrin, was your idea really spawned from Kay’s comment? It’s an interesting concept — maybe you should consider pitching it back to the Sharks when open casting comes to LA later this month?

    Andrew

  13. Darrin says:

    Andrew

    I had the idea before Kay’s comment. I bought the domain months ago and got a service mark on the name already.

    I don’t need the sharks funding. I’m a big fan and am able to fund this myself.

    I own another company called http://www.bizcash.com.

    Hopefully others will like the idea as well.

    Any other feedback from anyone else?

  14. Andrew says:

    Gotcha. You’re not the guppy. :) Best of luck with your businesses!

    Andrew

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>