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Shark Tips for Entrepreneurs

Love, love, LOVE my Shark Tank!  Almost all of the Sharks on Shark Tank have books, but I only found one to be a page-turner so far — Kevin Harrington’s Act Now! How I Turn Ideas into Million-Dollar Products.

Harrington is the self-proclaimed King of the Infomercial.  The book is written with the backdrop of the infomercial industry.  It’s a very interesting history of how that industry blossomed.  In the meantime, Kevin gives some very good business advice that is applicable regardless of what industry you’re in.

Here are some highlights:

1) When you make a deal for rights, try your best for an agreement that covers every potential source of income. Harrington learned this lesson when he made deals on selling items on TV, but then lost out when it was sold via retail outlets.

2) If you plan to build a big business with another person, spend the time – and the legal fees – to work every detail of the agreement…And never enter an important deal without spelling out an exit strategy.

3) Don’t sell the product – sell the story. I’ve heard this before, or at least things similar – don’t worry just about the product. For example, Rich Dad’s Robert Kiyosaki says people spend too much time and money on perfecting their product or service that they miss out on an opportunity.  No one says you shouldn’t have a good product or service, but that it just needs to be “good enough” to get started.  The marketing and/or the story surrounding your product or service is just as important…as is the mere fact that you are selling something!

4) Whatever business  you are in, never stop looking for the next hot deal.

5) Knocking on a series of wrong doors can be frustrating, but if you’re paying attention, it can also lead to valuable insights. This is also a lesson that I’ve heard in other books – basically, you should learn from everything, both good and bad experiences.

6) This is one of my personal favorite lessons, but I learned it as a reporter: “No” doesn’t necessarily mean “never.”  Sometimes it means, “You haven’t offered me something irresistible.  You haven’t offered me something I can’t afford to turn down.”

7) You can get yourself in front of important people, people who everyone else would say are totally inaccessible, by letting them know you can make them a lot of money.  Before Harrington was a big name, he was able to get in front of Donald Trump to ask him to be in an infomercial, even though everyone said Trump would never take the meeting.  While that project didn’t work out, they did later work together.

8) Always look to do business with people you would happily invite to Christmas dinner.  Conversely, I would say that you should aspire to be the type of person people want to invite to Christmas dinner!  One of the key reasons I love my Dancing With The Stars is that the stars always smile through the criticism.  I wish I was that person…I’m trying 🙂

9) To take advantage of sudden opportunities, maintain strong relationships with partner companies, and keep a lean organization staffed with people who can spring into action on a moment’s notice. Sorta goes back to the “be nice” suggestion above.  Networking is key to moving fast.

In addition to the life lessons above (and many more in the book, but a lot are sales related), Harrington also says over the years he’s created a 9-step process for selling/releasing products:

  • Product development
  • Due diligence
  • Creative phase
  • Production
  • Operational phase
  • Market testing
  • Creative tweaking
  • Rollout
  • Back-end marketing

My fave of his quotes of famous people:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

This is a good quick read…I recommend it…I also recommend the show – Shark Tank – you get a lot of good tips for what investors are looking for before they will give you any money — sales, cost of customer acquisition, commitment…can’t wait for the next season!  Until then, it’s Undercover Boss.

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