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Entrepreneur Office Hours: Issue #193
The sharks are back!
In last week’s issue, I answered a reader question about Shark Tank and the reason it’s not a good way for entrepreneurs to learn about pitching investors. The more I thought about the question, the more I found myself thinking about other reasons Shark Tank (and Dragon’s Den for a lot of my non-American readers) is problematic. So I fleshed out my answer and turned it into a full article discussing three terrible lessons from Shark Tank.
You’ll see that article linked below. I should also mention that I wanted to add a fourth lesson, but it made the article a bit too convoluted, so it got cut from the final version. But I figured I’d share that fourth lesson briefly here.
A lot of Shark Tank pitches have two presenters. That’s a big mistake. In a fundraising pitch you want one person and only person presenting. There are lots of reasons why, but the three big ones are:
Having two people pitch is distracting. Inevitably, whoever isn’t talking is going to draw your audience’s attention, and that’s bad.
Having two people pitch takes more time to prepare. Since startups are so short on time, spending the extra time to have two people pitch shows you’re not good at prioritizing.
Two people pitching can look like there’s a power struggle in the company with both people wanting to be viewed as “the boss.” That’s a red flag to investors who want clear, efficient decision making.
For what it’s worth, I learned all of the above lessons the hard way. Please… learn from my mistakes!
Sure, Shark Tank is an entertaining show, but don’t rely on it to teach you the proper way to pitch investors.
To be fair, I’m not the person who claimed this particular “superpower” is good, but it’s certainly worth considering…
Office Hours Q&A
I just wanted to write and tell you that I have really been enjoying your Entrepreneur-ing In Public posts about Autopest. To be honest, I have never actually checked out Autopest because I don’t have a good use for it, but I really enjoyed your posts.
I will definitely keep reading everything you write because you have such a way with words and explaining things, but those were some of my favorite posts of yours and I just wanted you to know in case you thought nobody liked them.
In case you missed it, in Tuesday’s Entrepreneur-ing In Public post, I explained that I’m going to move away from those journey logs about building Autopest and more toward other content. I’ve gotten a fair number of emails like the one above, which have been nice to read.
I should clarify a couple of things that are hopefully relevant to both what I’m publishing, and, perhaps, to the entrepreneurial and business lessons we’re all meant to be exploring together in these newsletters.
First, the main reason I’m pulling back on the posts about building Autopest is I’m not personally excited about writing them. I know that’s selfish, but, sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we have to be selfish. So much of entrepreneurship is driven by self motivation. If we don’t enjoy what we’re doing, it gets really difficult to do it. I was struggling to write those posts each week because I wasn’t enjoying them.
In the case of writing about Autopest, I began to recognize just how repetitive and slow the work of growing a business is. To be clear, I don’t mean the work, itself, isn’t enjoyable. But every time I sat down to share something about Autopest and what I’d done the previous week, I found myself staring at a giant pile of the same stuff.
That’s actually OK. In fact, it’s what you would hope for. A successful company doesn’t have tons of new stuff happening every day. Companies thrive on stability and process. Your job, as an entrepreneur, is to identify processes that work, and then you continue running those processes at scale. It’s an inherently repetitive job.
However, this focus on identifying and executing processes gets boring to write about. Finding the successful processes a company needs in order to grow takes time (which was the phase I was in). After that’s done, running the successful processes you’ve found takes even more time. For example, I’m still working on a TikTok strategy for Autopest. I started over a month ago, and it’s not going to be an overnight success. It’s going to take months before it generates meaningful results. The cold emailing campaign was the same. It’s going to take me at least another month to warm up a new set of email addresses, and then I’ll need another couple of months (at least) to run a proper test for new email campaigns.
All of that monotony is perfectly fine, but it’s not fun to turn into compelling content. If you weren’t bored of the writing yet, that’s great. But I suspect it was going to get boring because I was running out of ways to make the same things interesting.
The second reason for pivoting my content on Tuesdays is because I’d like to write things that create more value. Simply put, I felt like the posts about building Autopest were spending too much time talking about me. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that. My goal is to provide value outward to all of you. I think there’s a better way to create that kind of value, and I’d like to explore other options. To be clear, I’m not 100% sure I know what the “better way” is going to be just yet, but I’ve got some ideas, and I look forward to experimenting with them in the coming months, so stay tuned!
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!