15 Sep 2014
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Is Your Business Ready for the Shark Tank?

Other business from Patch towns have survived the Shark Tank. Learn how you can get on the show, and a few tips to help if you get there.

Is Your Business Ready for the Shark Tank?
By Michael Sewall 

ABC's hit show "Shark Tank" airs its season finale this Friday, and every week it's a much-watch for me. The show combines a lot of business education with the often heartfelt and unique stories of small businesses across the country. 

If you aren't familiar with the show, it puts entrepreneurs and business owners in front of five wealthy investors (the "sharks") looking to put their money behind ideas that intrigue them.  

Featured on Patch
Throughout the run of the show we've featured many businesses from Patch towns that made an appearance: 
  • Kane & Couture, a Hoboken, NJ business specializing in chic apparel and accessories for dogs.
  • Living Christmas Co., a Redondo Beach, CA business that rents Christmas trees, then picks them up to keep them growing.
  • Morninghead, a Needham, MA business with an easy solution to getting rid of bed hair in the morning.
  • Zoobean, an Arlington, VA business that recommends books and apps for children. 
Shark Tank Lessons
My favorite part of the show, besides seeing the unique products and hearing the passion of business owners, is learning about the basics of business like marketing, distribution and setting a value of a company. 

A while back I spoke with Charlotte Clary, the co-owner of "Shark Tank" success Ice Chips, about what she learned on the show. Here are a few lessons we discussed and that I've learned from watching:

1. Know your numbers: After business owners pitch their ideas, the first thing the sharks want to know is what sales are. It's vital that you bring specifics about sales, cost of customer acquisition, margins and more. If your numbers are solid and presented well, you're in good shape. But if your sales are low and you can't explain it, or you value your company too highly without justifying it, you probably won't get a deal. 

2. Be unique and show passion: Still, these are some pretty rich sharks. Sometimes if a business owner has that "it" factor, a shark will take a flyer and invest in them. They want to know the business owner cares enough about the business to work like crazy (and help the investors make back the money they put in). 

3. Understand why you're there: If a shark likes you and your business, the next thing they want to know is your plan for the future, and what you'll plan to do with the money they invest. That's often a concept that can make or break a deal. Come with a plan to use the money and be able to show how it'll help grow the business. The sharks will sniff out someone who's just there for exposure. 

Then again...

4. Exposure isn't such a bad thing: Although Ice Chips was shown getting a deal on the show, the post-episode negotiations fell through. Still, the appearance on "Shark Tank" helped Ice Chips. 

"The exposure was amazing," Clary said. "Seven weeks after the show aired, we made more money than we had asked from them. When the show re-aired in May, we did it again." 

Get on the Show
"Shark Tank" is always looking for new businesses to appear on the show. Go to the show page here to learn about open casting calls or submitting a video and application. 

TELL US: Do you think your business could handle the Shark Tank? 

This article is sponsored by Wells Fargo Works. Watch the video series, then enter the contest where you could win a similar experience, including $25,000 for your business.  Watch the videos and enter the contest here.

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