Starting & Growing Your Business: 5 Valuable Lessons Learned from Reality TV Pros

An Original Article from Small Business Administration (

In the past

few years ‘business turnaround’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ reality TV shows have

become compelling viewing – opening our eyes to the successes and challenges inherent

in being an entrepreneur or small business owner.

From UK

imports, such as Shark Tank, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and BBC

America’s excellent business transformation shows – Hotel Inspector and Mary

Queen of Shops – to homegrown productions such as NBC’s ‘The Restaurant’ –

reality-business TV offers a fascinating, albeit voyeuristic, insight into the

highs and lows of starting a business, reinventing a business, and even making

the decision to exit a business.

Whether you

are a start-up seeking investment (think Shark

Tank) or an established business in need of a re-launch to abate failure – these

shows deliver what could be considered a 50 minute master class in how to

succeed in business.

Here are some

common and consistent learning moments gleaned from these shows that small

business owners everywhere might consider.

When Seeking Funding – Don’t Over-Value Your Business’s

Current or Projected Worth

One of the more common mistakes

start-ups make – as seen on Shark Tank

– is misrepresenting or overvaluing the worth of their business to potential


At the end of the day, deliberately or

unwittingly over-valuing (or under-valuing) your business can quickly play

against you as a potential investor picks apart your sales and profit


So the takeaway from Shark Tank is that proper financial

planning and research can go a long way towards delivering a polished and

realistic sales pitch to banks or lenders.

This Business Loan


from is a useful

resource for guiding you through the process of planning and preparing a successful

loan application. These online Business

Planning Videos, from expert Tim Berry, can also help you build a realistic

sales forecast to out in front of investors.

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch and Presentation Skills

One of the most excruciating parts

about Shark Tank is those few moments

when budding entrepreneurs get to present their business elevator pitch to the

line-up of potential investors – and, whether it’s through nerves or poor

preparation, their presentation falls apart.

If you are looking to secure funds or

presenting your product or services at a trade show, developing and practicing your

elevator pitch is key. For a three step

approach to developing your company’s elevator pitch, read my earlier post: Why Your Business Needs an Elevator Pitch (and Tips on How to Target it to your Audience).


from the Competition

Another common scenario found on

business turnaround shows like Ramsay’s

Kitchen Nightmares, is that business owners faced with stiff competition

often retreat from it rather than embrace it.

Business is just as much as knowing

about the competition as it is about knowing your customers.

Take a hard look at what it is that you think

your business is doing wrong, in the light of what your competition across town

is doing right. Next find a way to re-connect with your target market using those

lessons learned – whether it’s re-branding your business; correcting your price

points; or firing staff who don’t cut the mustard.

Take a look at this *online workshop from SCORE

which show you how to gather competitive intelligence and help you be

ready for the competition. The Small Business Administration also offers

useful tips for understanding

the competition and finding a niche for your



to Grow


Diversification strategies are often at

the heart of reality TV business transformation shows. For example, would

adding a kids menu or brunch dining experience help drive your business in new

more profitable directions?

So whether it’s new offerings, new markets,

new verticals, new distribution channels – whatever it is you need to do to

diversify – explore all possible avenues, plan your approach and desired

outcome, and test and review your findings.


Your Ego at the Door


Ego is a significant obstacle to

business success, as encountered by countless reality TV business turnaround

experts. Sometimes it’s a stubbornness to embrace a new business tactic simply

because ‘we’ve always done it that way’, or it’s a case of an over-inflated

business ego driven to succeed regardless of the cost and risk, and is failing


So in addition to being willing to

diversify, time and again reality TV shows teach us that, a little bit of

ego-less objective business analysis and management can only improve your

bottom line.

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government web site.

Click here to view the original article.

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