I've been thinking a lot about the TV shows that have been meaningful to me in my entrepreneurial development. I recently shot a pilot for my new show called Go Big or Stay Home on The Learning Channel (TLC), and should know in early 2015 if it’s been picked up to go into full production. In prep for the show, I thought a lot about the shows I watch, and the lessons I learn from them. Here's a list of my favorite entrepreneurial shows on television.
1. The Profit. Okay, I’m a little obsessed with this show. Host Marcus Lemonis finds struggling businesses and offers them the money they need to stay afloat. The catch: Marcus is in charge. Drama, sound advice, and lots to learn about what not to do if you want to stay profitable ... all in one show. I can’t get enough of it.
2. Shark Tank. In its sixth season, this show features entrepreneurs who have the vision they believe will make them successful, but they need money to see it through. The panel of potential investors listens to the pitches and decides which, if any, of the entrepreneurs will get the funding they seek. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your skills in making a pitch, there’s much to learn from this show.
3. House Hunters and House Hunters International. So much of doing business is psychology, and knowing how people are likely to behave when they’re making the biggest financial decision of their lives can be invaluable. It’s also useful to analyze the strategies of the agents involved in the purchases. How do they move their clients through the deal? Bonus: cool scenery and gorgeous homes.
4. The Apprentice. This show is great to see basic business rules in action. Learning about how people behave in competitive situations and seeing how a successful person evaluates their efforts is not only entertaining, but also instructive. Learn your conflict management lessons here.
5. House of Cards. While this show certainly doesn’t fit into the reality show category, there’s much to be learned about power, influence and getting what you want. Watching main characters Frank and Claire Underwood lie, scheme and interpret rules to suit themselves on their way to the top doesn’t inspire confidence in our political situation, but it can teach us a lot about the value of having a long game.
6. Undercover Boss. We can never be reminded too frequently of how important it is to treat your employees fairly, keep the lines of communication open and understand the unique challenges your staff faces. Taking the time to think about what happens in your business when you’re not there can be both frightening and eye opening.
7. Your Business. MSNBC’s small-business show provides thought provoking analysis and tips on every aspect of entrepreneurship, from stress management, to marketing, to business trends on the horizon. Whether you employ one person or one hundred, you’ll find useful advice from the experts on this show.
8. How It’s Made. While the value of this show for entrepreneurs may not be readily apparent, I contend that there’s inherent worth in understanding the complexity of the manufacturing process for simple items we use every day. Whether you provide goods or services to your community, it’s important to wrap your head around the complex systems that must be in place to produce the things we often take for granted. That perspective can be incredibly useful when you’re dealing with your employees or contemplating starting a new business venture. Nearly everything is more complex than it appears on the surface.
9. Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Despite the fact that this show sometimes makes me question whether or not I want to eat out, I can’t get enough of it. The combination of Ramsey’s personality and the frequency with which the basics trip up these restaurateurs turn this show into entrepreneurial gold.
There’s more to running a successful business than taking notes on a TV show, but I learned a long, long time ago that I should never pass up good advice, no matter where it comes from.
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