TV shows may be all about ratings and over-the-top personalities. But in today’s reality show world, entrepreneurs can not only find entertainment value, but also inspiration. Here are NFIB’s top 5 shows to inspire your small business:
1. Shark Tank: ABC
"Sharks" are all self-made millionaires who built their businesses from the ground up. Entrepreneurs pitch their company before business icons Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner with the hope of securing funds to take their business to the next level.
Takeaways from the show include how to perfect your pitch. In a few minutes entrepreneurs summarize what their company does and where it’s going. They ask for funding based on the valuation of their company and its growth potential. While not every owner can go before the sharks, you can work on perfecting your pitch and finding alternative funding to help grow your business.
2. Restaurant Impossible: Food Network
Chef Robert Irvine burst into struggling restaurants with $10,000 and 2 days to turn around the business. He makes the owners evaluate their entire operations from menu to staff and marketing. Many of the owners fail to recognize how their leadership style hinders the overall success of the business.
This show highlights the importance of a clear vision and strong leadership. Even if you don’t have a celebrity knocking down your door to help you improve your business, taking a fresh approach to an existing solution can spark the turnaround you need.
3. Flipping Out: Bravo
Jeff Lewis flipped homes. At least he did until the housing bubble burst shortly after the show launched. Jeff took his expertise and transitioned into home renovation projects for clients. While Jeff and the cast of characters keep you entertained, you’ll witness many aspects of running a small business, such as collecting payments, dealing with hard-to-manage contractors, firing staff members, and keeping clients happy.
In today’s economy, it’s important to look for alternative streams of revenue to fend off any potential bursts in your business bubble.
4. Undercover Boss: CBS
High powered CEOs go to work on job sites within their company to gain insight on how directions from corporate are translated in the field. These CEOs work every level of job while pretending to be a new hire. In the process, they learn first hand how their employees feel about the company and the work-flow process.
What small business owners can learn from this show is that your employees may be the key to solving problems you don’t know exist. Talk to them often, encourage innovation and promote your star performers.
5. The Office: NBC
When all you need is a good laugh at the end of a long day, watch "The Office" on NBC. Shown as a "documentary" this program highlights a small business in a dying industry. The characters like to have fun, play pranks and participate in each other’s lives. For a group of people who seem to never work, the Scranton branch has survived in the economy. They must be doing something right.
Keep an eye out for a returning favorite, Celebrity Apprentice (NBC). In March 2013, "The Donald" returns with an all-star cast from prior seasons. We like the Apprentice because each week focuses on a clear project to accomplish for a client. The teams must work together under direction of one of their own to make the project succeed according to the client’s wishes.
Lastly, watch out for a new show from Bravo TV called Start-Ups: Silicon Valley set to air in November. We don’t know what to expect from this show yet, but by the sound of it anticipate young, tech-type entrepreneurs competing at Internet speed.
What business lessons have you learned from your favorite TV show? Let us know in the comments.