“If I could just get on Shark Tank.”

I hear this all the time.

“If I only had enough money.”

“If I just knew the right person then all my worries and all of my concerns would go away.”

Bringing a product to market is not a money issue, and it’s not about whom you know. It’s a knowledge and experience issue, and gaining those takes time. There isn’t a shortcut, I’m sorry to say. Don’t buy into all the hype!

For entrepreneurs, it’s about how to increase your chances of success and reduce the amount of risk. Experience is what you need and that’s going to take time, dedication and patience.

I recently read an article on Entrepreneur.com about Daymond John that said, “Money doesn’t solve your problems, it highlights weakness.”

He is absolutely right. People are driven by fear and misinformation. He talks about spending too much money on intellectual property. He talks about patents he filed that didn’t help and that a trademark actually did help him. Many people run out to file a patent and realize later that there are other less expensive tools to protect themselves that actually provide more value in the marketplace. It was a trademark that cost $2,500 that made the difference for him. Unfortunately the patents cost him over $60,000! 

Knowledge is King, and you have to invest in yourself and educate yourself. Most entrepreneurs say that they will learn along the way. Learning as you go can get very, very expensive. There are many ways to educate yourself. Some education costs a little money, some will cost a bit more, and some is absolutely free.

There are meetups for startups, inventing groups, free events, books, tradeshows, etc.

Please be aware: Sometimes free advice can be quite costly. It’s amazing how many self-proclaimed experts there are on social media that have little to no experience. It’s equivalent to finding a life coach who’s in their mid-20s! 

Don’t forget that “If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.” Another life lesson is that you are going to have to do all the work yourself. You will be disappointed when people promise you things. Don’t be fooled by discounts and buy-now special offerings. And please do a background check on anyone and any company you’re going to work with. If a company reaches out to you and they are not on social media and it is very difficult to find any information on them, there’s probably a reason. It’s hard to hide if you’re doing something wrong.

I highly recommend joining a startup if you want to learn from the ground up how to run a company and how to launch a product. Learn on somebody else’s dime like I did.

I know this is extremely hard for many entrepreneurs because they want to work on their own projects. I was very stubborn too when I first started out, but my experience and knowledge grew when I joined a startup. I left after gaining enough knowledge to start my own company.

Once upon a time, I also believed that if I just met the right person at a company, then that would open the door to success. Don’t buy into this distortion. No one is going to care more about your product than you. That magic person is you and only you. 

The only way to increase your chances of success is to not put all your eggs in one basket.

We all love Shark Tank but the reality is that very few people are able to leverage the experience and get picked by a Shark. Your chances might be better playing the lottery. The percentages are just too low. I love that some of the successful inventors on Shark Tank are now on the cover of People magazine: The Stories Behind Shark Tank’s Most Successful Products Ever — and How Much They’re Worth Now!

Once again the media is promoting the millions that very few individuals have made on Shark Tank. But what about the others? It’s a one-sided story. I know for a fact that Aaron Krause, founder of Scrub Daddy, is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. 

Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love inspiring stories. I remember when I first started out there was a local man in Los Gatos, California who invented the Pet Rock. It made millions and I bought into it. Yes, you can make millions and yes we should all dream, but our dreams should be based in reality.

Yes, you can try Shark Tank and leverage the experience and that’s awesome. However, to increase your chances of success you’re going to have to do other things. I believe the successful people and their projects on Shark Tank would still be successful without the show. Why? Entrepreneurial success takes hard work, dedication, knowledge and experience and that has nothing to do with getting featured on Shark Tank. Don’t get me wrong. Shark Tank is an amazing TV show and you can learn a lot from it. 

Look at all sides. Educate yourself to gain real knowledge. Looking to gain experience? Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Read books from authors who have both experience and credibility, like Seth Godin.
  • Listen to podcasts from seasoned entrepreneurs and their colleagues, such as Tim Ferriss.
  • Go to seminars and listen to experienced entrepreneurs.
  • Get off the couch on Friday night and actually make something happen. Stop watching and start doing!
  • Reach out and find a mentor at your local startup or inventing group. There is a list of groups on the Inventors Groups of America website.
  • Be willing to pay your dues. Success takes time.

There is no such thing as an overnight success. No one person or one company has all the answers. And to reach your goals, it’s never a straight line.