Lessons from the Shark Tank
Could you and your business survive on ABC’s Shark Tank? Could it grow beyond the show—or without its help at all?
On Season 6 episode 31 of the Making Bank Podcast, founder of FUBU and shark Daymond John shares his advice on how to build influence, pitch deals, and negotiate. Having built his company from the ground up, Daymond is opposed to the idea that you need lots of money to make money. There are certain skills, however, that can get you there. Daymond outlines these qualities in the episode, but mainly focuses on how to improve your networking, pitching and negotiating. The best part is that anyone can learn these skills for success.
The first area to focus on as an entrepreneur is how you build your influence. When Daymond talks about building your influence, he emphasizes the importance of making your name or brand impactful to others. Although related to networking, building your influence differs slightly in its purpose.
When we think about networking, we often think about becoming immersed in an industry and growing as many connections as possible. While there is nothing wrong with getting to meet many different people, what is the point if—simply put—none of them like you? The quality of your relationship may become more important than how many relationships you have. For eventually when you want to give someone a call, you’ll want them to answer because it’s you.
So how can you ensure your relationships are strong and that you bring social capital to the table? Daymond urges every entrepreneur to treat those who they connect with personally and professionally. However, it goes beyond that. He believes in valuing the other person as a whole, even if you only ever do business with them. You should pay attention to the small details to show you care and are respectful: if they have a partner, a family, a second home.
In a time of social media, it’s particularly important to make sure your pages convey who you actually are. After meeting someone new, it’s almost social protocol to connect online. Do you feel like your social media encompasses you? Are you embarrassed by it? Does it even exist? Make sure you put your best face forward—both on and offline.
Daymond specifically pinpoints the importance of communication style. If he knows someone hates phone calls, he’ll send them an email. If he knows they won’t see his email, he’ll shoot them a text. When building these connections, it’s imperative to remember what’s best for the other person—and respect that. This way, people will come into the interaction already feeling good and will be more open.
Besides, if you email someone that hates emailing, why should they respond? Not only are they already inclined to ignore your message, but they will also see that you don’t pay attention to their preferences.
On the flip side, if you take the time to be personable, respectful and accommodating, they will remember that—and remember you.
Next, Daymond covers the best way to pitch someone. Whether you want to go on Shark Tank or are pitching to private investors, Daymond believes in making it as easy as possible for the other person. This will look different to different people, but it comes down to the same concepts.
If you’re meeting with someone to pitch your idea, don’t ask what they can do for you. The person you’re pitching to probably gets pitched to hundreds of times, So, don’t come outright and beg for advice or help, or say you need a favor. Rather, set your pitch up in a way that shows the person how you can help them. Show how your pitch will benefit them—and how easy it is for them to reap those benefits. Once you remove as many obstacles as possible, your audience is more likely to say yes.
Another important aspect of pitching—and negotiating—is know your target. Do your research. If you’re pitching a clothing brand to someone who never works with clothing brands, that might not be your ideal target. Maybe it is, as they want to expand into new areas. Either way, do thorough research and tailor your pitch to best fit their needs.
Along with doing the research, Daymond urges entrepreneurs to use their senses. During a pitch or negotiation, does the person seem tense? Angry? Are they leaning forward in anticipation? Are they offering up sounds of approval or just staying silent? Listen and look to how the person responds to what you’re saying. Most of their reaction will be nonverbal. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. If you’re picking up non-verbal cues that are telling you something good or bad, believe them. You’re picking up on them for a reason.
Lastly, the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur in negotiations is know your “why.” What Daymond means by this is understanding your purpose and why you do what you do. How will you use the money you’re asking for and why use it in such a way? There’s no shame your reasoning, but it’s important to pinpoint it. It will help you assess whether or not you’re spending that money in the right way.
More importantly, Daymond urges you to understand, and remember, why you started your company. What is the purpose of this company to you and others? If you can identify that and stay true, it will help guide you during negotiations. Negotiations can be long and complicated. If you know why you’re in these negotiations, it will help provide a north star in the weeks or months it can take to reach a deal. It will help raise alarm bells if any part of the deal is incongruent with your mission statement. And overall, knowing your purpose will help steer the business and your life.