So, what is “Shark Tank Theory?
Shark Tank is a TV show where entrepreneurs make a pitch to a panel of investors they call “sharks”, one of which is billionaire Mark Cuban. The sharks decide whether or not to invest their own money into the presented businesses, and the entrepreneurs try to strike a bargain with them.
If you’re a startup, small-business owner, entrepreneur, or inventor, simply soaking up the advice from these bloodthirsty sharks can help you plot your own business and money moves. Watch their strategies, where their interest is piqued, and why they turn down some startups and fight for others.
How do you get your business ready for investors?
Write a business plan that will get their attention
Most “pitching” events begin with opportunities for you to submit a business plan or statement about your business idea. This, in some ways, can be the hardest portion of the contest. Anyone can submit their idea, and if you’re new to entrepreneurship, it’s hard to know what judges are looking for.
Read the contest rules carefully. Make sure the business plan you submit is complete and well-written. Your business idea will be competing with other names in the same niche; no one expects you to revolutionize a market your first time out.
Make sure to talk about your ideal customer, what problems they’re facing, and how your product or service will help them solve it.
Do some extensive research on the investors
Local events may have one of the actual Sharks in attendance, or they may simply follow a similar format with local entrepreneurs and investors as judges. Either way, it’s a good idea to research your judges before the event so you can target your pitch towards them.
Certain judges on the television show are known for being passionate about one type of product or another. If your product fits into that niche, you might successfully compare it to a product that the Shark has invested in before.
Practice your pitch
It can be tempting to memorize every word of your pitch, but that can make you sound like you’re reading off cue cards: monotonous and repetitive.
Instead of writing out your pitch word-for-word, jot down the broad strokes of what you want to talk about. Note key phrases and statistics, but let yourself be creative with how you talk about your business idea. This will show your passion, and interest the panel.
If you have friends and relatives who are supportive of your idea, make them sit down and listen to your pitch. Once they agree you’re doing well, move on to your less supportive relatives and friends. When you can keep them interested as well, you’re ready to go.
Anticipate the unanticipated question
During judging, you’ll be asked a question you did’t anticipate, and you’ll get caught off guard. The most important thing is to not panic. Practice acknowledgment phrases like “That’s a really good question” and “I’m glad you asked that” to give yourself a moment to take a deep breath and think before answering the question.
The judges probably aren’t looking for a specific answer, but a sign that you can think under pressure. This gives them some insight into how you will operate in a high-pressure business situation.
These events are getting more popular every year: They connect investors and entrepreneurs while also bringing some positive attention to the local figures in your business community. Next time your Chamber holds an event, don’t hesitate; send in an application and get funded!
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.