Stories and Startups – Why Your Businesss Past Should Be Part of Its Future
You’re probably already familiar with the popular CBS series The Shark Tank, where hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their startup plans to a group of successful investors. A reality show based on an opportunity to carve a potential path towards the American dream of running their own business. Hopeful, business beginners are given an important audience with some of the wealthiest and most successful “sharks” from various industries.
These famous capitalists are fully aware of the fact that 75% of new ventures will crash and burn, they are wealthy for a reason, they know all about budgeting and are not quick to open up their wallets or sign off on a hefty investment check. Take some advice and a few tips from some of the winners and losers from this arena to successfully communicate your important startup story:
SELL YOURSELF – “It doesn’t matter if the glass is half-empty or half-full, all that matters is you’re the one pouring the water.” Shark Tank Judge, Mark Cuban
Even if you can sell ice cubes to eskimos, you may have to win over an often chilly panel of potential investors. Panelists from the Shark Tank have admitted that they were sometimes more impressed with the presentation and the salesperson themselves rather than their product, service or idea. Here’s some do’s and don’ts when it comes to marketing yourself:
- Be extremely well educated – but don’t come off as a know-it-all
- Take advice and criticism – but don’t take it personally
- Be enthusiastic – but not overbearing
- Dress to impress – but still be suited appropriately
In other words, if you’re pitching a farm-related product you might look pretty silly in a tuxedo while the opposite is also true — if offering a service designed for executives, you’d look ridiculous in a pair of overalls.
BE PREPARED – Just like the motto shared by the Boy Scouts for over a hundred years
Just like the Shark Tank judges, other listeners to your business tale will have plenty of comments, questions and concerns. Be prepared to have everything and the kitchen sink thrown at you. You must know every last detail about your business, idea, product, invention, plan, anything and everything associated with your venture, like the back of your hand. Use your friends and family as presentation guinea pigs and ask for their feedback, what questions they may have, to become better prepared for future inquiries.
THE PROBLEM VERSUS THE SOLUTION – Once more from everyone’s favorite billionaire, Mark Cuban offers, “It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.”
Even though you’ve dreamt up the best possible product, if it doesn’t fill a void in the marketplace, then it is pretty much worthless. Often it is better to start with a problem that already exists and find a way to provide an effective solution. This type of thinking takes much of the vanity away from the creator and focuses more attention on the marketplace, similar to the inventor’s paradox.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL – “I’m so good at failure,” states Shark Tank panelist Barbara Corcoran confidently, “It’s like my specialty.”
Even if you’re rejected, it’s not the end of the world and there are often valuable lessons to be learned. Some Shark Tank rejects were offered valuable connections to important business contacts, worthy advice and tips from these professional experts in success. They bring more than money to the table when they give their own experience, insight and connections to the business newcomer.
In conclusion, another wise man, Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Be courageous in your startup storytelling process to pave your way to business success.
About the Author:
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.