Reality TV Business Lessons

What more can we say about reality TV that hasn’t already been said?  Most self-respecting actors would never invite a camera crew to follow them around and let the world see their most intimate moments.  And yet, it seems every new television season we’re watching someone battle a personal struggle (or another person) on cable TV.  Many of the reality personalities use TV as a platform to position and launch their business ventures.  It’s a way to begin the branding process of their so-called empire.  And despite so many people having a number of objections to very familiar reality personalities, they seem to be sailing.  After all, television and being on television is a business just like any other field or industry.  Some have become so popular (due to the growth of viewership) they create spin-offs.  Others may shed the light on an existing business or industry that isn’t as well known until it’s filmed.  Either way, there are some valuable take-a-ways business owners and entrepreneurs can learn from reality TV (yep, you heard me.  I used the words “learn” and “reality TV” in the same sentence).

But before everyone plops down into front of the boob tube thinking they’re going to be magically inspired by a girl fight gone worse, let’s stick to 3 reality TV shows that are business related and let’s analyze what we can take away from to use in our own companies and start-ups.

Shark Tank (hello, a reality TV show about aspiring entrepreneurs!):

  • Before you solicit any money from an investor, have your numbers together. We’re talking sales, both current and future, cost of production, what you value your company at and why and your expenses for operation.  
  • Don’t lie or try to hide anything important from investors.  No one wants to do business with a sneak or a liar.  Plus, it tarnishes your reputation before you’ve had the chance to establish one.
  • Whenever you’re pitching your business to someone, make it exciting.  Be excited about what you’re doing.  If you’re not, no one else is going to be either.
  • Rejection is normal in business.  Don’t get upset, don’t get discourage.  It’s a learning tool. Keeping learning, keep working and you’ll improve.
  • Decide early on if seeking an investor (or investors) is something you want to do.  An investor means having someone else have to back before you pay yourself.

America’s Next Top Model (modeling, an integral part of that billion dollar fashion industry):

  • Time is money. If you don’t already know this, learn it now. Every time you’re late or extend a project, it’s costing money and very likely, a client.
  • Take accountability for yourself.  It doesn’t matter how new you are to a situation or an environment, it your responsibility to perform as best you can.  And when you think you’re giving it your all, give a little more.
  • Learn to adapt.  In just about every industry or field, you’re going to come across people from all walks of life.  Some you’ll like, some you won’t.  But it’s not your job to  make judgments or be argumentative.  It’s your job to be professional.  At all times.
  • Understand that not every opportunity is going to have the result you want.  It doesn’t mean there’s not another opportunity lurking around the corner or that the end result won’t be just as positive.   Take and use every experience to launch yourself to the next opportunity.  Success is about persistence.
  • When someone is giving you instructions that can help, heed it.  Anytime someone is giving you advice for your benefit, listen.

Hardcore Pawn (all about customer service and daily transactions):

  • There’s an asking price and a selling price.  Know the difference.  What’s your asking price and what are you willing to let it go for?  Why?  Because you still want to make a profit.
  • Customer service is vital for maintaining a good relationship with your clientle.  So is protecting your business.
  • Be sympathetic.  Sometimes we carry on thinking ‘it’s just business’.  But business is made up of people and we need to remember that people are living breathing creatures that have their own daily challenges.  Be sympathetic and understanding. We’re all human.
  • When working with family, it does need to be just business.  Keep the emotional hurtful crap off the sales floor.  Customers do not see employees fighting and arguing with another, it’s in bad taste.  And can hurt your business’ reputation.
  • Many hands make light work and for good reason.  Whenever you can and it’s beneficial to all parties involved, use teamwork.  It’ll get you farther faster.

And here you thought the only educational television left was PBS (which  will at least see another four years to run on).




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