In an era (now a trend exceeding 7 or 8 years) where banks drag out the application and review process over weeks or months, then demonstrate a very low approval rate on loan requests, the appeal of investor funding has many business owners wishing they could get on Shark Tank.
Each shark’s bias
You don’t have to be a regular viewer of the television program to see patterns develop when it comes to how each shark prefers that businesses position themselves for success. If you’ve watched even one multi-segment episode, you may have noticed:
- Kevin O’Leary looks for the easiest way to generate income while letting other organizations do most of the work. He’s a fan of licensing, which has value mostly for unique products within companies that haven’t grown (headcount and equipment) much beyond their founders.
- Barbara Corcoran supports teamwork and creativity in packaging and promotion.
- Daymond John’s concern (in addition to business fundamentals) is whether there is an identifiable and sustainable branding opportunity to underpin promotional efforts.
- Mark Cuban wants to be confident there really is an interested market waiting for the product or service. Significant current and overall sales volumes are indicators that demand exists.
- Robert Herjavec won’t participate with companies he fears will stay small. His comfort level improves when he senses a business has a good size market and its operations are scalable.
- Lori Greiner prefers companies that can use quick, easy, mass marketing tactics, such as appearances on cable shopping networks.
The sharks’ common view
Beyond these and some other key business attributes that are important to each shark, there’s one thing on which they all agree:
When a shark invests in your business, you’re getting both money and that shark’s expertise. However, in exchange, you forfeit a good amount of equity, lose some or all strategic control and often inherit the obligation to repay the money as sales are made.
Other types of investors
If not sharks, then you may be considering the option of bringing in angel investors. These may be family, friends, new partners or independent business investors. For the most part, you give up a large portion of your business and, potentially, lose day-to-day control. At least with Shark Tank, your new investor may have a lot influence through name recognition, and carry the expertise or connections to out-perform the value of more ordinary investors.
Between losing some or all of your business to financial backers, or waiting indefinitely for a bank approval that may never come, prospects can appear bleak for the hard-working, equity building entrepreneur.
An approach that respects the business owner
Fortunately, these very circumstances spawned the “alternative lending” industry, recognized today for:
- Short application forms
- Quick application processes
- Fast approval cycles
- High percentage approval rates
- Rapid funding
- Freedom to use the cash for purposes the entrepreneur prefers
Perhaps the best part is that once your short term loan is funded, you still own 100% of your business (or whatever percentage you had to start) and maintain total control on how the money is spent.