I was watching Shark Tank the other night, and I was screaming at the television (in my head at least) because the people pitching their businesses to the investors were blowing it. So, just in case you’re ever on Shark Tank, I want you to be prepared. Even if you’re not looking for an investor, this is still applicable advice for all entrepreneurs.
1. Know Your Business Elevator Pitch
Your business elevator pitch should be rehearsed and memorized. You should be able to tell someone in 30 seconds or less what your company does, who the product is for, what the benefit is, and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is.
2. Your First Business Doesn’t Have to Be Your Last
Like a child raised and sheltered since the womb, people are so protective of their first ideas, that they can’t let them go, even if they are failing. Alternatively, a first business can sometimes be even harder to let go of when it’s successful, though it may be best to sell. Selling can give you the time and money to pursue a second venture if the time is right. Whatever it is you decide is up to you, but don’t forget that your first business is only the beginning.
3. You Should Be Able to Easily Answer The Question, “Why Should People Buy Your Product?”
If you have a revolutionary product or service, this question should be simple to answer. If your product is something that already exists, but yours is better than existing products in an identifiably better way, this question should be simple to answer. If you can’t easily answer it, you might not have a product that people will buy.
4. Investors Don’t Give Money to Failing Ideas
Some of the pitchers on Shark Tank were just begging for large amounts of money because they had put in hundreds of thousands of dollars into their business that is not generating profit. What investor would ever look at those numbers and decide it would be a good idea to invest? The time to get an investor if you need one, is after you’ve proven the business to be successful to the highest level it can be without more upfront cash in hand for exponential growth. Don’t ask for money out of desperation. If your business isn’t making money, your product might not be in demand, or you might need consulting to fix problem areas of the way you’re running the business.
5. Assets Are Valuable
Particularly if your business is going through tough times, you can sell or license patents, sell equipment, or leverage your audience (in a respectful way that doesn’t breach your agreement with them). I never advise people to sell email lists or contact information they’ve acquired through business. That’s sketchy and a breach of trust, but there are ways to use an audience that is mutually rewarding. If you can get patents on your ideas, build a large and loyal audience, acquire equipment, or anything else that is yours, you can use those to your advantage to make a lot more money.
…and people say television is a waste of time.