When I walked on to the stage of ABC's Shark Tank, and saw my belts hanging there on the rack, I felt a calmness that can only be described as, a peaceful realization of possible futures. I had made many turns and many detours through my life to arrive at this moment. There are pivotal moments that shape us, but the truth is all decisions matter. We find ourselves in the moment and what we decide changes the possible future.
The past leads you to a moment, your present, your reality. I like to think about a championship game or a world series. We all wish to be the person on the plate, the quintessential difference maker. However, before we can be that person who makes the meaningful and all-important home run, we must make the team in the first place. Naturally people want to be part of the results, not so much the process. Its easy to look on and dream of being that person, it's much harder to do it.
The most common question people have for me regarding Shark Tank, "Were you nervous?" I joke that I'm too dumb to be nervous, but the reality is I wasn't nervous because the moments and experiences that led me there had prepared me to hit. I had nothing to fear, I knew the game and was prepared to play.
I think when many of us watch the show, we see people that are not ready to play, they don't know their numbers or in some cases what to do next. No potential investor wants to hear that you don't have a plan. The pitfalls of dreaming are the failures of planning to make the dreams a reality.
A good idea will get you nowhere. There are no million-dollar ideas, only million-dollar executions in some cases like Mission Belt Co., it's a multimillion dollar execution, or multi-billion dollar execution if you look at FUBU, Daymond John's dream that he created out of a few hundred bucks and some raw hustle.
Here are a few things you can do to be ready for the big game:
1. Create a playbook.
The NFL and the military use them to coordinate offense and defense. Businesses use a business plan which is part of the plan, but you need to go deeper if you want to get that business plan in front of the right investor and get them to work with you.
I wrote Daymond's name on a cue card and put it in my pocket before I walked out on stage. I knew what I wanted, why and I also knew what I would ask for.
2. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Reality check time. Make sure that you go to the table and get what you want, but you better make sure there's some excellent math involved to entice your would be investor to partner with you. All too often we see greedy little pigs go in front of the sharks and ask for the the sun and the moon and have little to offer in the way of results and often times little in the way of equity/reward.
3. Showing up is half the battle.
The best pitches are backed by results, I had only been in business a few months when I had met Daymond, but I had hustled $39,000 of Mission Belts to people, mostly out of the trunk of my car. Those kinds of efforts do not go unnoticed by an investor, as much as your idea, investors buy you.
Theres a cliché that has become commonplace, "good things come to those that wait." This is not only not true, it's the opposite of the truth, if it were a compass and you wished to go north, that advice would take you south. It's a marketing tactic created my master salesmen, like myself, to trick you into buying ketchup out of an antiquated glass bottle.
From my ten commandments of selling: "1. Thou shalt hustle." There is a reason it's the first commandment, it's the most important. Show up and your potential investor may just bet on you!