Last year, while I was taking my small-business training program at BCIT, I was introduced to The Dragon’s Den by one of my instructors. The Dragon’s Den is a Canadian production on CBC, and, as far as I can tell, is unique in the genre of reality television. Basically, there is this panel of very successful business people that have money to invest in start-up companies. Small businesses and corporations come in and pitch their ideas for expansion and development to the Dragons, in exchange for a percentage of their business.
As a person who was starting, and is now running, her own business, watching this show is an education. Looking beyond all the cheese of the reality-television formula (the tension-inducing music, the cutting-to-commercial before the final verdict), it is so interesting to see which businesses succeed on this show, and which ones get shot down in flames (another mainstay of the reality-TV formula). Generally speaking, the ones that succeed are super prepared with marketing materials and facts and figures. They’ve thought about what kinds of questions the dragons might ask, and are prepared with the answers. They don’t oversell, but allow the product or service to speak for itself.
The ones that fail miserably are the ones that, often, are so overconfident in their product/service that they have become downright cocky, and have lost sight of reality (or maybe they never had it to start with). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in your product. In fact, if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, you have no business selling it. Passion helps, too, for sure. But some people think that their product or service is perfect, and they are convinced that every single person in the world should jump on their bandwagon. And that’s just not true. For any business.
There is a fine line between being confident and being egotistical. You need to know that there is always something that can be improved with your business. And I’m not talking about perfectionism. You might be aware that everything is not perfect with your business, but maybe you choose to not act on that right now. For example, I’m thinking about moving my business from a home-based operation to an office. Getting an office would be a big boost to people’s perception of the professionalism of my business. But I need to be strategic about it–location, money, and who I would share an office with are all factors that need to be taken into consideration. So, I’m developing a plan….
It’s a fine balance–you need to be confident, but not too confident, you need to be aware of what needs improvement, but not be mired in perfectionism (because we’ve all been around those people, and boy, let me tell you, no party there).
So, if you haven’t yet, watch The Dragon’s Den. You might learn something. And if nothing else, it’s an entertaining way to spend a Monday night… if there’s no Canucks game.