Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shark Tank for Writers?

I MAY be slightly obsessed with Shark Tank.  If you don’t know, Shark Tank gives various inventors and small business owners the opportunity to pitch their idea/product/business to five gazillionaires (okay, one billionaire and 4 millionaires…but add ‘em together and I’m SURE you end up in the gazillions) in the hopes that one or more of them will invest in their company.

The gazillionaire Sharks are a varied group. Most weeks they tend to have a mix of the following people (although sometimes they throw someone new into the mix for an episode or two)

n  a venture capitalist (a money guy)
n  a chick from QVC who has a boatload of patents (an invention/product pusher)
n  a merchandising/branding guy (the marketer)
n  a guy who’s made a mint selling computer/technology companies (he’s the serial entrepreneur with the American Dream story)
n  a real estate mogul (providing a service and building an empire)
n  the billionaire who invests in a lot of companies (diversification)

I’m not an inventor and, quite frankly, I don’t have the slightest interest in the majority of products/services that are pitched. So why the obsession?

Because where else can I get the perspective of a money guy, an inventor/saleswoman, a branding expert, a technology guy, a service provider at the top of their field, and a billionaire all offering their varying opinions about the same product?

I don’t have the opportunity to sit down with a business manager, a book seller, a marketing guru, a tech guy, a top selling provider and a guy who seems to do it all.

So what have I learned from Shark Tank that I can apply to my writing career?

1)    It must be a marketable product. (Just like with writing, it doesn’t count if the only people who like what you’ve got are your mom and your best friend)
2)    You need to be prepared and you have to sell it like a pro. (Chances are that if I wince during a pitch, the Sharks aren’t going to invest. The same goes for books.)
3)    You need to have a plan to grow and to know the next step. (Unless of course you’re the former CIA guy who instead of running a camp in Utah is going to run workshops around the country…yes, sometimes, like in publishing, I end up thinking “WTF?”)
4)    You’ve got to know your money details. (Know them, but don’t inflate them.) Know ‘em cold.
5)    If you’re being given advice from worthwhile people, SHUT UP AND LISTEN! You don’t have to ultimately agree with or implement it, but the worst, dumbest, most idiotic thing you can do, is to ignore or argue it.

****This is an important one…If you don’t believe me, further support of this tip can be found in every freaking episode of Kitchen Nightmares.


Janet said...

Love Shark Tank, and Dragon's Den (the Canadian show that Shark Tank is modelled after). Great lessons to be learned - especially the 'shut up and listen'! How come they never do that????

And I always say "Why didn't I think of that?" when there's a really great idea pitched!!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I try to catch Shark Tank when I can. Another one I just found is called The Profit - where a guy goes to one business and decides whether to invest in it. It's like Restaurant Impossible or Hotel Impossible, but with different businesses. And yes, the most important thing all of these failing business people seem to forget is they need help, so they need to shut up and listen to the people trying to help them. Sheesh.

Yep, writers, too.

jblynn said...

Janet -- Oooh, I'll have to look for Dragon's Den. Thanks for the heads up!

B.E. -- What kills me is that they invite these people in and then ignore their expertise. Maddening!

Silver James said...

I admit I don't watch either one. My reality TV runs toward crime/forensic type shows. But you know, this does apply to writing, especially that last one. How many writers/hope-to-be-writers do we know that ask for a critique and then completely ignore any advice. They immediately defend their words--to the death. If you didn't want advice, if you don't want to know what's wrong, then don't ask!

People need to learn to be less defensive. Ducks, people! We need to be ducks. Water rolls off our backs while we're paddling like crazy beneath the surface.

Which makes no sense nor is it apropos to anything in this discussion. LOL Yeah, color me sleep deprived. *rolls eyes*

Good advice, JB! I'm copying and pasting it. :D

Karyn Good said...

Um...not so much a fan. I dislike Kevin O'Leary, who happens to appear on both ST and DD. But I'm sure there's valuable advice to be gathered. Whenever you have anything to market, you need to figure out how to get it done. Says someone who hasn't managed to figure it out yet. Maybe I should start watching...

jblynn said...

SIlver -- When you're not so sleep deprived you may not think the advice is so great ;-)

Karyn -- I never said I particularly LIKE any of the Sharks… :-)

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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