If you’ve seen the television show Shark Tank, you may have some idea of what an entrepreneur could look like. Successful entrepreneurs are like “swimming with sharks.” There’s something to learn from this idea of sharks – the investing entrepreneurs have been thought of as predatory, conquering, and large in their target markets and business practices. Successful. Is real life like we see it on TV? What makes the shark analogy so applicable?
Sharks are Adaptable
Sharks, through their many species and types, have grown to adapt and evolve to thrive in many types of oceans and temperatures. They flourish in deep ocean waters and others flourish in shallow waters. Sharks have the ability to accommodate, acclimate and own the changes that occur in nature and their environment. In Business, entrepreneurs must be capable of doing the same — entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. The environment, market, customer, product, and the entrepreneur himself is always changing — and should be. If you can’t adapt, you’re simply not going to make it.
Sharks do what it takes and aren’t afraid of the distance
“Most sharks are especially active in the evening and night when they hunt. Some sharks migrate over great distances to feed and breed. This can take them over entire ocean basins.” Are you working long hours? Are you in it for the long haul and are you willing to travel the distance required by your company or your idea? Your company or your idea won’t wait for you. You have to make it happen.
Sharks learn what they need to and then fend for themselves
When shark pups are born, they hang out for only a short period of time and come prepped with what they need to take care of themselves. Mouths full of teeth and an intimidating demeanor, sharks are able to take what they need from their environment very quickly and then apply it to their own lives and seek their own meals. No one else is going to be able to tell us the right choice every time or how to manage our ideas. Advisors, friends, family, people will come out of the wood-work with their opinions, thoughts, and sometimes great advice. Entrepreneurs must filter through the nonsense and learn what they need to from the environment and at the end of the day, nothing trumps experience and the act of doing. We’re responsible for our business decisions.
Sharks aren’t typically dangerous (you can even swim with them!)
When people think of sharks, they often think of cold-blooded killers like Jaws. Shark attacks. Monsters that can smell blood from miles away in the ocean; ready to pounce on their kill. Truth is that out of 470 species of shark, only four of those have been identified in attacks on humans. If you’re one of the four more aggressive types, you may be driving out your employees, your team, your customer or even ruining your product / idea. While sharks are aggressive, they know when to be — feeding time, surprising seals and sea lions; they’re tactical in their aggression. Forbes wrote this great article on identifying bad leaders. Don’t be one of those sharks.
We could keep the analogies going the whole article; the point is that the analogy is there for a reason. An entrepreneur must be an entrepreneur to their core; in the same way that a shark is completely a shark. To be a successful entrepreneur, though, you must balance these traits and utilize them to maintain and run your business. Just keep swimming.
What do you do that makes you a shark in your business?