"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

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.


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


  1. I've not seen this program, will have to check it out. These look like wise observations; I appreciate your insight and encouragement. Observing and learning, always a good thing.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 14, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Wow, really? Girl, you've got to get on board. Besides the wisdom it provides, the guys on the show are good eye candy. LOL
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Interesting topic Jennifer, (especially since I also have a special Home Business Lifestyle Blog) I have seen some things about that show, and seen somewhat similar tv-shows. I frequently enjoy the 'Down to Earth' insights they share in such shows.

    I do believe that an important Business Lesson is that in business it usually isn't 'This - Or - That', instead it frequently can be 'This - And - That'.

    That you can also have Sink - and - Float, for example when laying flat in the water with your chin a little up, it can be very Relaxing to just Float. Just as lot's of Businesses aren't only Winners or Losers, but something inbetween.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM


    Thanks for another enlightening "exchange." :-)

    1. Talking about Sinking & Floating, in some Hollywood Movies you might have seen dramatic images of people drowning in quicksand, with people getting sucked down below, with dramatically only one hand above the water etc. etc.....?

      In the Mythsbusters on tv, they did reseach, and showed that in quicksand you actually simply just keep floating. (Not that getting stuck in quicksand isn't unpractical)

    2. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM


      I appreciate your generosity in sharing. :-)

  5. I love your line: "Don't be bitter, be better!" It's a great way to look at rejection generally.

    I have to admit that I have not heard of Shark Tank, but it sounds funny and enlightening. You can't beat that mix! I appreciate your comparisons between this show and the business of writing. Good tips!

    Be well...

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 17, 2012 at 5:38 AM


      Girl you're slippin'. I always count on you to get feedback from our popular shows. You know we usually watch the same things. LOL

      You have to check this show out; I promise you'll find something you like about it. :-) Have I ever steered U wrong?

  6. Like Janette, I had not heard of Shark Tank, but it sure sounds enlightening. You always give us another way to look at things - like televisions shows! The rejection part is always hard that's why I try to have market #2 in mind when I'm waiting to hear back from market #1. Great tips, Jen.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 17, 2012 at 5:54 AM


      My mom always taught me...and I'm a firm believer, that we can learn something from just about anything, if we are receptive. :-) I think that part of being a good writer is being able to be "inspired" and draw from various mediums--books, art work, movies, music, etc.

      You know what I mean? Now, you ladies have to get on board with Shark Tank. Check your local listings. I'll be giving a pop quiz soon! LOL

  7. Jennifer,

    I too have not yet seen Shark Tank, but I heard about it. I will be sure to check it out and give my feedback. Thanks for the parallels though, with writing. I like your point about collaborative partnerships. One successful publication was a research article I co-authored with a colleague. On my own, it would have been a lot of work, but together, we discussed many points,shared the research, editing,submission and publication processes.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM


      ...Always good to hear from you. Please do check out Shark Tank and post your comments here. We'd love to get your perspective. Thanks for adding to the mix here.

    2. Yes, collaborative partnerships in writing is also something that I frequently think about.

      When I worked at a big Record/Entertainment Company every time I would put out something I wrote, I did let it check by a collegue of mine, and Vice Versa. Because I usually find it a lot easier to find mistakes in things that others wrote than in my own writing.

      Also on my Blog(s) I enjoy it when readers Collaborate and write their Comments & Replies, I usually also write you Comments & Replies back. On most of my Blogs I frequently get Readers Feedback only on my Writer's Blog - although I do have some Commenters once in a while - Paradoxacally there is a little less commenting going on that blog, when I compare it to my other blogs. I guess that a lot of writers are frequently somewhat inclined
      to be 'Solopreneurs...?'.

      I also recently created a (very) Special Book Review Blog where I put up Book Reviews Btw. I also actually wrote a few exclusive ones myself. (Did I mention that it is a very - Special - book review blog? :)) You get an opportunity to Collaborate by sharing your - Opinion - about specific books, or where you can share your favorite books etc. etc.

    3. H.P.,

      This sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing. Also, I am planning to work on a music project, that someone has requested my help. You might be interested in including it on your Blog. Email me for deatils. ;-)

    4. OOPS! Sorry, that should be spelled "details". :-)
      The mind is quicker than the fingers this morning...

    5. Talking about Music,

      Yesterday I actually got an invitation for a concert with a performance of a friend of a friend of mine, that might also possibly give me some new ideas to write new posts about for my music blog. (a concert with also other artists performing, one that I wrote about on my Music Blog in 2010)

      Only while for example my - Home Business Blog - has a little more Visitors and Commenting & Replying, currently my - Music Blog - isn't (yet) the place to search for Massive Exposure because, currently on that blog is even less Commenting going on than on my Writing Blog ;)


      You (or/and the one that requested your help) are alway's welcome to write Comments & Replies, on that Music Blog telling my 'Massive Amount of Readers' about your Music Projects, or else feel free to send me an email about it.

      On my Writing Blog (near the top in the left corner) you can find a link to my Main Blog. (hpshappy.blogspot.com) On that blog in the Left Side Bar, scrolling down a little, (under my eBook Cover photo) you can find a Funny Looking Mail Box Image, hoovering with your mouse above it will show you a - Mailto: - at the bottom of the screen, (or clicking it will bring you to you standard-e-mailclient.)

  8. I think this is a must read post because I come from a creative writing background where writers turn their noses up at the business side of writing. But I think if you want to earn any money from writing, you definitely have to operate as a business.

    My favorite lesson from Shark Tank is how to deal with rejection. It's not only wise to persevere, but as the article states, we must assess how we can do better.

    Thanks for this unique perspective.

  9. I consider you a literary shark: you know how to go get 'em, you empower others and have fantastic advice.

  10. Linda,

    ...And I consider you like a "life preserver" that keeps me afloat in deep waters. Thanks, hon. :-)

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