4 Money Lessons You Can Learn from 'Shark Tank'
1. Know Your Priorities
The sharks: The sharks have different ways of determining what constitutes a good investment, and it doesn't always come down to the dollars and cents. Sometimes they invest in the entrepreneur as much as his company, wanting to pay it forward and help make an American dream come true. Sometimes they relate to a product personally because it solves a problem they're familiar with or serves a niche they're involved in. And many times (or all the time, if you're Kevin O'Leary), the decision is simply and strictly about the money.
You: Know where your priorities stand. Determine what you want your money to be able to do for you -- allow you to travel, build yourself future security, free you from a job you hate -- and work toward those goals regardless of what anyone else around you is doing.
2. Don't Let Your Emotions Get in the Way
The sharks: More than a few entrepreneurs have broken down in the tank when they realize no one is interested in what they're selling. The sharks try to explain to them why their business model isn't working, why their product won't sell or why they won't get enough return on their investment -- but all the entrepreneur can do is sob about the fact that their product is "their baby" and they've spent long, hard hours pouring themselves into it. As a result, they don't retain any of the valuable advice the sharks have given them.
You: Money and emotions don't mix well. Make sure your financial decisions, both large and small, are based on logic, reason and an impartial analysis. Seek one advice from a third party like a certified public accountant or financial adviser. Don't let your feelings impair your better judgment.
4. Be Realistic
The sharks: Some entrepreneurs value their companies at millions of dollars when they don't have a single sale yet to prove their worth. Others believe their product will be the next super-trend when in reality the market for it is so small it's barely worth producing.
You: Whether you're putting together a monthly budget or determining how much house you can afford to buy, make sure you're being realistic about your own capabilities. Can you really live on $50 of groceries a month, or are you mistaking an impossible goal for a realistic challenge? Even if you can qualify for a $250,000 mortgage, will that leave you enough money to live on or will you wind up house-poor? It's OK to want to aim high, but make sure any goals you have are also firmly grounded in reality.
4. Don't Let Difficulties Stop You
The sharks: Some of the most inspirational "Shark Tank" stories are those of entrepreneurs who faced overwhelming obstacles and setbacks and still managed to make their company successful. Many of the sharks themselves overcame challenges to get to where they are today. A single mother raised FUBU creator Daymond John; tech mogul Robert Herjavec is the son of Croatian immigrants and the first in his family to attend college.
You: Whether you've lost your job, made a bad investment or dug yourself into debt, remember that what matters isn't how many times you fall down; it's how many times you get back up again. We all make mistakes and sometimes life throws us for a loop; it's determination, dedication and a willingness to look forward that play the strongest role in our ultimate success.
Paula Pant is an entrepreneur and real estate investor who has traveled to 32 countries. Her blog Afford Anything is not the same tired, stodgy, uninspired financial advice that you'll find on other websites. Afford Anything shows you how to crush limits, create wealth and maximize life.