Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lessons from the Shark Tank

One of the more popular shows on television is Shark Tank.  It is built around the premise of entrepreneurs pitching their product or service to five billionaires who have the opportunity to fund the business in exchange for an equity stake in the company.

In college athletics, we are similarly seeking all kinds of investors to take an equity stake in our teams. There are numerous lessons to take from this show that apply to your team, department and institution.  Five that come to mind include:
  1. You are always on the carpet - Each entrepreneur stands on an ornate rug and pitches their concept to the five investors.  You are doing this every single day at macro and micro levels with season ticket holders, media contacts, donors, recruits and a host of other potential supporters. 
  2. You have to know your product - Each episode, there inevitably seems to be someone who isn't well educated about their own product or doesn't have a clear understanding of the business.  If YOU don't know your own product or aren't passionate about it, how can you expect others to believe in what you are selling?
  3. Simple but creative often works - Some of the best selling items on Shark Tank are remarkably simple, including the #1 seller, a smiling sponge called the Scrub Daddy.  
  4. It's important to move towards closing - As Dan Tudor points out in his recent post about recruiting and Shark Tank, knowing the right time to close the deal, and the right tone to close the sale is very important.
  5. Repeat business is crucial - Two of the common questions on Shark Tank are "What is your cost of acquiring a customer?" and "What percentage of your sales are repeat customers?" Keeping your current customers is crucial, yet we often spend more time and effort on acquisition over maintaining the supporters we currently have and letting them tell our story for us through word of mouth and social media where they tout their satisfaction to the market. 
Are you a fan of the show?  I invite you to take a moment and share your additional observations in the comments section.

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