Over the last nine years, “Shark Tank”, the hit ABC reality show, has brought the stories of America’s entrepreneurs to your living room.
The sharks will be the first to tell you that not all of their investments have been successful over the years. In some ways, that’s not the point, though. This show is about more than investments. Beyond helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, Shark Tank provides business owners at home with exposure to greatly successful innovators. These self-made mentors know the critical skills and expertise needed to grow a business, boost sales and build profits.
Here are four useful pieces of advice that we have learned from the Sharks over the years. Take note of them and think about how you could apply them to your business:
Cash is king
From investments in R&D, to hiring new employees, to investing in technology, a strong cash flow provides business owners with the tools they need to sustain their operations and grow. Robert Herjavec, a cyber security expert and Shark Tank judge, who has been on the show since Season 1, once said: “cash is the lifeblood of your business. There are very few things in business that will kill you, but running out of cash is one of those things.”
Cash flow grants business owners with the flexibility they need to make tough decisions, often on a tight timeframe. Imagine receiving a new purchase order from your biggest customer, but not having the capital necessary to fulfill it. Without steady cash flow, you’re put in a bind, and may even risk losing some of your most important customers.
Cash flow is about more than just fulfilling orders. Having strong cash flow puts your business in a much better position to negotiate financing terms with lenders and receive larger discounts with suppliers. Be sure to take every step you can to shore up your cash flow.
Entrepreneurship can include teamwork
A common mistake entrepreneurs make is not assembling a team to support their growth.
Building a team takes time. Building trust takes even more time. Being able to realize that you don’t need to do it all on your own is a big step for any business owner.
Kevin O’Leary, a successful venture capital investor and Shark Tank mainstay once said, "my partners taught me that in order to create wealth, I needed to pair up with people whose strengths compensated for my weaknesses."
Being able to realize this can go a long way in influencing your success.
Have clear goals. Be realistic.
“A goal without a timeline is just a dream.” Herjavec makes clear that although every business starts with a dream, the key to making that dream reality is to be able to understand what your definition of success is. Entrepreneurs want to have successful and profitable companies, but how do their measures of success differ? One can’t just hope that “one day” their company will be successful.
It is vital to make a timeline with associated goals that you can use to hold yourself accountable and track progress along the way. There will be many milestones and identifying them ahead of time is most important. Knowing what’s next is a big part of success. You can’t get to your $1,000,000 in revenue without first passing the $1,000 mark. Having a firm timeline will ensure that you are able to check if you are on track to meet or exceed your goals as you go.
There will be bumps in the road.
No one likes failing, but embracing failure is a characteristic all entrepreneurs share. Barbara Corcoran, a Shark Tank judge who made millions in the real estate sector once said that “the difference between the real winners is how long they take to feel sorry for themselves. My winners feel it … but they come back up and say ‘hit me again.’”
Building a business is no easy feat. Each stage will come with ups and downs, and hard times will come and go. Resilient business owners must have the drive to withstand any storm. They must be able to take a step back, analyze what went wrong and put a plan in place to ensure that they learn from their mistakes. Those who can successfully pivot on the fly are those who will be best equipped for a bright future.
The road to success is long and winding, but the insights discussed from some of America’s most successful business owners should help. A final quote from Robert Herjavec to ponder: “Business is a sprint until you find an opportunity, then it's the patience of a marathon runner.”