Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank deliver episode after episode of enthralling television by capitalizing on the nail-biting tension of tentative business partnerships.
Originating in Japan as Money Tigers or Tigers of Money, the show’s captivating formula has been recreated in dozens of countries and met with critical acclaim.
Whether or not Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank are largely fictionalized remains a subject of continued debate among fans. However, despite being dramatized reality shows, one of which is themed by an iconic mythological creature – it’s not all fantasy.
Featuring notable business and investor types such as Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, and Arlene Dickinson, the shows do offer real insight into the world of business. From the art of the sell to tactics of desperation, there are lessons to be learned within each episode’s approximate 45-minutes runtime.
So for both burgeoning entrepreneurs and experienced business owners alike, what’s worth taking notes on? Courtesy of your friends at Yocale, let’s take a look!
Know Your Investors/Partners
Both Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den feature a diverse cast of potential investors for contestants to partner with, each with unique skill sets and backgrounds. The varied casting is part of why the show is so enjoyable to watch – every cast member approaches each pitch differently, and no two deals are the same.
In response, some of the show’s contestants intentionally gear their pitches towards a specific cast member in the hopes of garnering their favor and sealing a deal. Knowing who’s who and what each cast member can offer them puts them at a definitive advantage.
As they say, knowing what you want in business is important – but as these shows prove, knowing your investors is essential, too. Each and every partnership has the opportunity to steer your business in a multitude of directions – so choose wisely!
Don’t Act Out Of Desperation
On Dragon’s Den, cast member Kevin O’ Leary often redirects the offers of contestants back at them with an enlarged ownership percentage in mind because he knows he’s the contestant’s only choice.
Most cunning investors and business-minded individuals can almost smell desperation and will take advantage of it should the opportunity arise. Sure, it might result in a partnership of some kind, but due to the predatory context, the resulting agreement might not end up being mutually beneficial.
Don’t let this be you – always evaluate your moves before you make them, and assure you’re not acting on emotional impulse!
Never Miss An Opportunity For Advice/Criticism
Most contestants on Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den show up with the intention of sealing a deal. But in the process, they often miss out on something else of value entirely – good advice.
Because they’re so focused on selling their business or product as-is, contestants on these shows often forget that they’re essentially attending a business meeting with several top businesspeople and investor-types that can also offer invaluable advice.
Inevitably, when contestants are turned down, they often become defensive or discourteous and walk away in defeat without saying another word. In doing so, they miss out on the opportunity to request constructive criticism and potentially improve their product or business.
Outside of the TV studio, this philosophy also extends to business and investor meetings of all kinds – even if you can’t come to a deal, good advice is usually free!
Know Your Strengths
Whether in the context of your business or personal life, it’s always advantageous to cater to your strengths. If you know yourself well, identifying your strengths will also expose your weaknesses, which isn’t a bad thing – that’s where partnerships come in!
Cast members on Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank often make deals with one another because they know a partnership will bridge the gaps of responsibility or inexperience. This makes their potential investments not only more lucrative but also more practical.
There’s No Such Thing As Bad Publicity
Many contestants spend several minutes on shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den embarrassing themselves, usually to the amusement of the cast who remain comically disinterested.
However, these shows have large audiences, and these entrepreneurs often find success outside of the show, despite not landing an initial partnership. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity – and there’s definitely some truth to that!
Sure, not all entrepreneurs might have the opportunity to pitch their product on a wide-reaching television show. But the best entrepreneurs will take advantage of any marketing opportunity available to them, even if things don’t go to plan.
For instance, many contestants on the show who walk away empty-handed end up labeling their products with these shows in mind. You’ve probably seen taglines like “featured on Dragon’s Den” before, which is no doubt clever marketing ingenuity at work.
Don’t Fall In Love With A Tentative Offer
Often, a business owner appears on shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank and walks away in utter triumph, having secured a partnership.
However, some months later, the news might materialize that their deal has actually been cancelled due to a variety of reasons. Whether some of these on-screen deals are fictionalized or not, the question remains – what happened?
Most business deals often require lengthy processing times and lots of paperwork, meaning that it’s rare for an agreement to become finalized almost immediately. Put off early celebration and spare yourself disappointment by waiting until everything clears before popping the champagne.
Presentation Is Everything
In Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, the cast is subjected to a high-volume of pitches which likely influences their decision making. Over time, this makes the show’s personalities less likely to notice the boring pitches – but on the flip-side, it also makes them more likely to notice the good ones.
The catalyst for many deals on the show is charisma – a crucial presentational ingredient in the world of business. After all, having a revolutionary product is only half the battle: you have to be able to sell it, too.
This isn’t just a reality of television, either – presentational ability and salesmanship transfer to any avenue of real-world business, too. If you can distinguish your product or business from the rest and win over your investors via creative or memorable presentation, you’ll likely find yourself on the fast-track to success!
Know Your Market And Demographic
Many of the show’s contestants walk in with a naïve perception of the market they’re in – only to be torn apart by the cast. Confronted by cold-hard reality, the resulting scenario is a mix of antagonism and mockery at the hands of the show’s cast – hence, the titles Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank.
So what’s the lesson here? Well, entering the realm of business with a poor understanding of your target market is like entering a minefield without a mine detector – it’s probably not going to end well.
Doing your homework on the market or niche you have in mind will keep you informed, and more importantly, agile. You’ll be able to see potential problems with your business model or marketing sooner rather than later and solve them with little effort.
You don’t have to know a market inside and out – but some preparation is definitely preferable to rushing in blind!
Focus On Solving A Problem
Most successful businesses are built on the foundation of problem-solving – and the cast of shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank know this well.
Sure, there’s some novelty to be found in products that provide cheap thrills or businesses that are only somewhat unique. However, investors aren’t usually looking for goofy novelty – they’re looking for compelling and revolutionary businesses that are dedicated to long-term growth.
The real world isn’t much different. A business that’s oriented around creative problem solving has a much longer life-span and success rate than one built on the premise of simply “cashing in” on a recent fad or trend.
Stand out from the crowd and step into the spotlight by providing a solution to a problem that remains unsolved in a particular niche or market!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post! For more on business strategy, online and off – keep up with us here, five days a week at the Yocale blog!