It’s 3:20 am – way past midnight ! We should go to sleep!!
This was the conversation we had a couple of nights ago after binge watching Season 14 of Shark Tank.
Throughout the years, every time I watch an episode, I pick up something new that I have not noticed before.
Here are my top 5 highlights of Shark Tank season 14:
1- Expanding through Retail: YAY or NAY
The general feeling and reactions throughout this season has been a big Nay to the retail route. Every time an entrepreneur expressed their intention to grow by going to retail, every Shark’s face changed, not in such a pleasant way!
You might ask why that would be? Expanding through retail sounds like a viable growth and expansion for so many brands. So, Why Not!
Let’s see: When you expand your offerings through a retail chain, that means you need to carry more inventory. Because you have to fill those shelves. Right?
No matter if you are selling like crazy or it is a slow burn, you lock your cash into inventory.
So, from an investor point of view, realizing the return on those invested dollars gets longer. The needs for cash flow also get more intense as investors may need to pour more money into the operation to keep it going.
Also, when you sell through retail, your margins shrink since you now have a middle man to feed. The one that should also profit from providing you with business opportunities.
Overall, from business exposure and continuity, going to retail might sound like an appealing strategy but not the one that is fully appreciated from an investor and cash flow point of view.
2- Higher sales numbers can get you an investor : Myth or Reality?
I personally enjoyed the moments that Sharks were talking over each other, fighting and changing their deals so frequently to get the entrepreneurs on board when their sales were above the $2M mark.
However, as I witnessed more deals to be made, I also understood that in some cases you can get an investor on board when your sales are still in their infancy.
There are other factors to consider. Such as your product lifecycle – If the product is just hyped up that would sell well for 6 months and get forgotten or is it something that will stay around for much longer!
They also looked at the founders capabilities and personality as well as the company’s future potential.
So, if you still don’t have 6 or 7 figure revenues to report, don’t be shy to pitch to an investor that appreciates your other qualities.
3- Business Model is just a theory, a mere concept on paper!
A follow up to my previous takeaway was understanding how crucial it was to have a clear and well understood business model. Not the business plan! The model itself.
Knowing how you make money, where you sell, how and where you meet your customers, what your costs and challenges are.
How do you plan to overcome them and make the path to growth smoother as you go along?
When entrepreneurs talked about their business model confidently and clearly, it didn’t matter how early or late they were in securing an investor.
4- Smart Personal Capital: To have cash flow OR higher margin?
I was astonished to watch how many entrepreneurs put or I should say locked their personal capitals to secure a higher volume of inventory to just get better prices.
It is one thing to truly believe in your products and projected sales but it is another thing to pay close to a million dollars to secure inventory just because you could get a better cost per unit from a contract manufacturer.
The reaction on Shark’s faces was priceless too!
Get smart about how to spend your money at the beginning. Every dollar counts and do your best to have cash flow. You might lose a percentage or two on your margin if you don’t produce/ purchase in bulk at the start. But trust me, having the free cash on hand will be your savior.
5- Don’t shy away from your story: Sharks can cry TOO!
I was moved by so many inspiring stories that were shared throughout this season. When the stories were shared, everyone’s tone changed and they were more ready to buy into the business than before.
The story that I would never forget was the one from Legacy Shave, where they end up finding 3,000 perfectly assembled prototypes in the basement with a note from their father after he passed away. “Finally, now is the time, no more living life in fear, life is too short, no more what if’s, no more regrets. Just go for it.”.
Make sure to read their full story here!
One last note is that the entrepreneurial path is not straight forward. There are highs and lows and sweat equity pays off big time.
I can’t wait to be part of your success story. If you are planning to pitch your business, Feel free to say hi and let’s make great things happen, together.