One of my favourite family time is watching old episodes of Shark Tank. We do not have the privilege of watching new episodes. We do not get the latest show in my country. Nonetheless, my kids love watching the show with me.
Shark Tank is a show where a business owner needed to raise cash. They have to give up a certain percentage of their business ownership for the cash. They will present their case in front of five successful entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs will ask questions about the deal and decide whether to invest.
Whenever I watch the show with my kids, I try to make it into an interactive session with the kids.
Know your numbers. When the contestants ask for a certain amount of money. I would pause the show and ask the kids how much exactly the business worth. For example, a 10,000 USD for 5% equipment would be 200,000 USD. The kids would struggle with the calculation. Soon, they got pretty good with the math.
In the show, the sharks would ask quantifying question to understand the justification of the asking price. If the contestant could not answer questions such as annual sales, annual turnover or profit. The presentation would go downhill and leave the show with an empty hand. The same applies to work, we have to know our numbers. The basic numbers. Before going into any meeting or presentation, always expect this kind of questions.
Sometimes people can be jerks. In the show, some of the sharks would say something hurtful or put-down. My kids have to learn the hard lesson that not everyone is nice. If we need or want something from someone. We have surrendered part of ourselves to them. That’s why that certain person feels that they can put us down.
There is a difference between being candid and a jerk. The line sometimes can be blurry. A candid feedback tells us how to do better. It is up to the listener to differentiate. A candid feedback is always welcomed. It is like taking bitter medicine. We need the medicine to be better.
Not all decisions are good decisions. One of our favourite activity is to Google the businesses or the deals that were featured. The is the great thing about watching old episodes of Shark Tank. We can quickly find out what happened to the deal. Sometimes, the business did well without any investment from the sharks. Sometimes, the business fumbled even though there was a deal with the sharks.
We do our best to make a decision based on what we know. We have to accept that not all decisions will have a positive outcome.
Only invest in the industry that you know. The sharks have a variety of background. My kid’s favourite is Mark Cuban. In their eyes, Mark Cuban is the more successful shark amongst the sharks. During the show, the sharks have many times said that they will not invest because they are not familiar with the industry. My simple observation is that Mark is generally interested in IT business.
This is a life lesson here. We will have many opportunities. Not all opportunities are equal. We have to be selective. Only pick up opportunities that excite you and have a low learning curve. If you are going for a moon shot, make sure there is a good learning lesson regardless of the outcome.
Hard work and more hard work. Many of the business owners have worked hard on their business before coming up to the show. Securing a deal from the sharks does not mean the business owners can take a back seat. As a matter of fact, there is more hard work. The sharks will no doubt drive the business owners harder and be more successful. The shark’s money is at stake.
You can always walk away. This is probably the most important lesson. If the deal is not what you want. You can always walk away from the deal. There is nothing to lose. Sharks would always bully contestant and pressure them into a deal.
It is also true that:
“50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.”
If an offer does not align with your vision or your principles, it is better to walk away.
There is always a side that you never see. I always remind the kids that Shark Tank is a show. In reality, the conversation between contestant and the sharks is always longer. The purpose is to entertain the audiences and keep their interest glue to the television. Do not take everything on face value.
When we read or listen, take everything with a pinch of scepticism. Are we listening to things that we just want to listen to? That’s confirmation bias. Is the news feed reporting the whole truth, or it is just telling us what agency wants us to know?
If we look hard enough, there are many lessons that we can draw from life. Not necessary by watching a TV show.
What do I know? I am not an entrepreneur nor a shark.