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5 Lessons Small Business Owners Can Learn from TV Makeover and Mentoring Shows

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5 Lessons Small Business Owners Can Learn from TV Makeover and Mentoring Shows

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: June 21, 2012

Are you a fan of TV business “makeover” or mentoring shows? Programs like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Tabatha Takes Over, Shark Tank, or The Apprentice make for compelling viewing. Designed as pure entertainment, these shows often smack of voyeurism, like you’re watching a train wreck about to happen. But they can also offer invaluable insights to business owners – opening our eyes to some universal truths about entrepreneurship and business ownership.

Not convinced? Here are some transformational learning moments common and consistent to many of the businesses brave enough to open their doors to the cameras:

1. Communication is Key

The effect of poor communication in business is perhaps the starkest lesson learned from reality business shows – and the results are universal. Low employee morale, uncontained egos, poor understanding of duties and roles, unhappy customers, gossip, rumors, and disrespect for management are all signs of poor communication.

So what are the antidotes for poor communication?

  • Check your Ego – Ego is a significant obstacle to business success, as encountered by countless reality TV business turnaround experts. Counteract it by being objective about your business and open to new ideas.
  • Demonstrate Good Leadership – It takes time and effort to be a good leader. Put aside day-to-day distractions and schedule one-on-one time with staff, solicit their input, and listen. Regular staff meetings that encourage input and give you an opportunity to share business goals and achievements are vital to building engagement, trust and improved communication.
  • Show Respect and Courtesy and Be Consistent – Go beyond mere verbal niceties and ensure that your actions consistently evidence your good will as an employer. A strong, happy team will benefit enormously from a leader with the right attitude.
  • Listen – One of the first things the hosts of a business transformation TV show will do is listen to the business owner, the staff, and even customers. This is the first step in gauging what’s working, what’s not, and healing the wounds of a dysfunctional team. Listening attentively, providing meaningful feedback, and offering support and encouragement open the doors to a healthier business environment.

These blogs offer more tips for effective leadership:

2. Learn From the Competition

The epiphany is another common scenario in these shows: opening the business owner’s eyes to what the competition is doing. Hosts like Gordon Ramsay and Tabatha Coffey mentor business owners to embrace rather than retreat from competition. They encourage business owners to take a hard look at what they think they are doing wrong or could do better in the context of what the competition is doing. This involves refining their niches and finding ways to connect with their target market. Demonstrating value, customer service and leadership in a niche are proven techniques that work time and time again.

3. Need Funding? Value Your Business Carefully

Budding entrepreneurs seeking funds on the reality TV show Shark Tank make the common mistake of miscalculating the worth of their business venture based on sales and profit projections. Whether you’re seeking angel investment or a traditional business loan, over- or under-valuing your business or investment needs is something savvy lenders or investors will jump on. 

Proper financial planning and research are essential to a realistic, yet attractive proposal to potential lenders or investors. Here are a few guides and training resources from SBA to help you forecast your growth and financing needs:

4. Become a Pro at Delivering Your Elevator Pitch

Another hot tip for budding entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners looking to grow is perfecting your elevator pitch. Why? If you can’t describe succinctly what you have to offer, to whom, and the benefits you provide, then any pitch to investors is going to quickly fall apart (as often demonstrated to cringe-worthy effect on Shark Tank).

5. Be Prepared to Diversify

Diversification strategies are often at the heart of reality TV business transformation shows. For example, would adding a new line of products or killing off unprofitable lines help drive focus and profits? Explore all possible avenues, plan your approach and desired outcome, and test and review your findings.

 

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

They encourage business owners to take a hard look at what they think they are doing wrong or could do better in the context of what the competition is doing. This involves refining their niches and finding ways to connect with their target market
Diversification is the one thing that has kept me in business for the past 5 years. We started out in the same industry we are in now but with a different service. Today that income stream no longer exists due to new technology and different marketplace demands. We still have echos of it in our business structure but most people never guess its where we started. We were lucky enough to understand diversification and have been able to adapt because of it.
This is an excellent article. I watch several of those shows, and they are entertaining, but there is also an unrealistic nature about them. Getting your idea in front of investors is rarely as easy as they make it appear.
Having a mentor is very important. Not all of us have them. Even a little motivation from someone you don't know can go a very long way.
I love these new mentoring shows because it is bettering people. We all can learn something from them.
This is an exceptional blog post. What a wealth of information for small business owners. Putting a value on your small business is one of the most difficult, but important tasks you can do. I wish I would have had this info 5 years ago when I first started.
Thank you for the informative post.This short tutorial is very helpful forpeople like myself.I am self-employed and try to stay away from accountant asthey cost pretyt much and I cannot afford this now when my business is soyoung
I agree that excellent communication skills is the basic quality that an entrepreneur must posses. If the content of ego and ignorance exists in an entrepreneur then it will directly affect the business because an entrepreneur needs to maintain a sense of healthy relationship with the clients and the customers and secondly a effective leadership quality makes him run business with the efficient support of a team not the individuals. Mentoring shows can set a good example for learning the leadership qualities and communication skills.
Thanks for your sharring
These shows are less of an example of mentoring and more of a demonstration of "reverse mentoring." That is, watch what people do on these shows (including hosts, bosses, entrepreneurs, participants, etc) and then do the opposite. Donald Trump is the best example of this reverse mentoring principal.

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