You Win Some, You Lose Some
One of my favorite things to do, when I can find the time, is catch up on episodes of “ABC’s Shark Tank.” If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a reality show that gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the “sharks” in the tank—entrepreneurs who have been successful in building lucrative empires across a myriad of industries. By and large, success is measured as securing an investment from one of the sharks and, with it, their wealth of knowledge and extensive contacts. However, one of the reasons why I love this show is because even when contestants fail to secure an investment, if they have a product or service that the public wants, being on the show can still result in a win.
Many entrepreneurs are binary by nature or necessity and only think in terms of wins/losses, success/failure, and profit/loss. However, being so reductive can limit our view of the situation and prohibit us from the seeing the full picture. For instance, in 2013 Michael Elliot launched “Hammer & Nails Grooming Salon”, a place where men can get manicures and pedicures without feeling uncomfortable. Soon after, he was invited to appear on Shark Tank, hoping to get a $200,000 investment for a 20% stake in the company. He was rejected by the sharks, but after his episode aired, he raised the amount he needed from viewers and subsequently created the infrastructure needed to franchise the business. Today, there are 4 Hammer & Nails franchises with at least 9 others listed as “Coming Soon” on the company’s website from coast-to-coast, including one currently under construction in Portland, Oregon by my dear friend and brother, Dr. Keenan Davis. (Shameless plug, I’ve been to a Hammer & Nails location near me and it truly is a gratifying experience).
By losing that day on Shark Tank, Michael Elliot was setup to win. However, had he dwelled on his “loss” he would have missed the opportunity to leverage the appearance to ultimately achieve his goal, and who knows where he’d be today.
Life is what you make of it, and when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see just how close you are to achieving your goals, especially after you’ve fallen for the umpteenth time. To combat this, in the words of Coach Jack Harbaugh, entrepreneurs and small business owners must “Attack [each] day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” Doing so will allow you to see the silver lining in every cloud, the message in every mess and the opportunity in every shortcoming. Being a small business owner is hard, but if you’re doing the best you can, take it easy on yourself, trust the process and keep going.