Friday, September 14, 2012
Why Every Writer-preneur Should Watch Shark Tank to Increase Their Business I.Q. & Their Bottom Line!
Mark Cuban, (millionaire owner of the Dallas Maverick’s basketball team) used to eat mustard and ketchup sandwiches, he was once so poor.
An interesting bit of information I picked up on a recent episode of the popular reality T.V. program, Shark Tank.
Despite the distinction of being dubbed the “Boob Tube,” if we’re smart in what we opt to watch, this medium can be enlightening as well as entertaining.
For example, courtroom programs have greatly expanded my knowledge of contractual law and general liability. While “doses” of Dr. Phil have imparted wisdom on dealing with relationships and life management skills.
But when it comes to writing and the entrepreneurial life, nothing comes next to “Shark Tank” for today‘s serious scribe.
For the uninitiated, Shark Tank is a popular reality show produced by ABC TV that airs every Friday.
The program allows entrepreneurs with startups from various industries, to pitch their products and services to five “filthy rich” investors for the purpose of financing their dreams. These Sharks include a real estate mogul, a branding expert, and several technology experts turned business owners. If the entrepreneurs are successful, they garner needed capital, increased visibility, and important alliances to take their businesses to a whole ‘nother level.
WHY SHARK TANK IS A MUST-SEE FOR SERIOUS SCRIBES
Let’s face it: creative folks are categorically bright, but not always the best business managers. Take for instance, the many song writers, entertainers and celebrities that have gone broke after making millions, because they allowed someone else to manage their money, and made bad decisions regarding their careers. I remember when one of my favorites, (Barry Manilow), had to actually go back out on tour and almost start from scratch to survive financially.
A similar fate happened to best-selling author, Iyanla Vanzant, who shared on Oprah show that she was forced to declare bankruptcy due to contractual issues, and being sued, along with poor real estate dealings. She stated, “I had six bank accounts, and I didn’t know what they were for, where the money was.” Vanzant contends she was a millionaire with a welfare mentality.
Where does the Shark Tank come in?
Besides being hugely entertaining, the show is educational as well. Here’s how it helps today’s writers to navigate the business waters and stay afloat.
It allows writers to analyze and apply strategies that contribute to the success or failings of other entrepreneurs.
For example, a bone of contention for many of the investors is when start-up owners have bad “valuations”. Meaning that the amount they’re asking for is either too high or unrealistic, given the track record of previous sales. Writers can compare valuations with the fees charged for creative services. If they’re “valued” too high or unrealistically based, (due to the level of experience), we can lose potential clients. About.com provides useful tips for writers in assessing fees. Check it out here:
It helps writers to look at their businesses and creative ideas from an objective standpoint.
The Sharks help “dreamers” to recognize that not all good ideas are necessarily marketable. In other words, the key to being a well-paid writer is to solve a problem, or to provide value through the pieces that you pen. It’s simply not enough to string words together and hope for the best. Objectivity is crucial. For some writers, a critique group can help with needed feedback and an unbiased look at their work.
It teaches the importance of collaborative partnerships. Many times the sharks pair up with other panelists when they feel that they lack the expertise to buy into a business for which they have limited background knowledge. It creates a win/win situation for all parties. This principle can work well for writers who might seek the creative assistance of photographers or graphic designers to expand their services. Craigslist.org has loads of listings from which to choose.
It teaches writers to persevere through rejection.
The Sharks can sometimes be very biting and harsh in their feedback. So can editors. “Mr. Wonderful,” for example, can be compared to Howard Stern when it comes to his sensitivity and interpersonal skills on the show. It’s not unusual, during a presentation, for him to shout “stupid idea” or “that’s a waste of my time.” Still, the presenters press on, and some are even able to negotiate deals with the other panelists. The take-away lesson here?
When one editor fails to see your worth, don’t personalize it. Don‘t be bitter, be
better! Keep your wits about you. Eventually, you too will find an “investor.” For some publications, I have had to submit for four or more years before actually landing a sale. “If at first you don’t succeed.” Also, for developmental and strategic purposes, it’s important to analyze and record the nature of your rejections. Are there any commonalities? Do editors often gripe about your grammar? Do they frown down on your fragments? The more you know about your creative weaknesses and mishaps, the
more conscious you are in future dealings, and the less likely you are to repeat them. This approach will ultimately increase your acceptance rate.
It establishes the importance of sizing up the competition.
Every business owner has competition. It doesn’t matter where they’re located or what they do. Writers are no different. Just because we’re typically a supportive community, doesn’t mean that we don’t “compete” in the truest sense of the word. For example, bloggers may compete for today’s busy reader’s time and ad revenue shares. While ghostwriters may go head-to-head for limited job listings on popular job boards. With this in mind, how do you stack up? Are your credentials impressive comparatively? Are your clips from national publications? Have you won any creative awards? Does your portfolio reflect diversity? Are you a “shutterbug” with the ability to enhance your articles with photos? These are things to consider.
When it comes to writing and business you've got to learn to sink or swim!
Thoughts? Any Shark Tank fans out there? Talk to me...
Image: Shark Tank