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5 Life Lessons Learned From Watching “The Shark Tank”

If you’re not familiar with the program “The Shark Tank” it’s where people ask five “sharks” or successful entrepreneurs to invest in their businesses. The “sharks” are all successful business people such as Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban. While this program is focused on small businesses and entrepreneurship, I feel it teaches lessons that can also be applied to the “business” of succeeding at life.Business man with folder, on white

Lesson #1: Know your goals

People who enter The Shark Tank must be prepared to state their goals in a clear and specific manner. They must be able to tell the Sharks exactly what they want. In this case, it’s the amount of money they want one of the Sharks to invest. For those of us not in The Shark Tank, a good, specific goal might be “to become debt free in 30 months” or to “save enough to put 10% down on a house next year.” The important thing is to have a clear and definable goal because if you don’t, there’s no way to know whether or not you’re making progress towards success.

Lesson #2: Know what you’re willing to give up to achieve your goal

The second thing participants must be able to do is tell the Sharks precisely what they’d be willing to give up to get at least one of them to invest in his or he business. This is stated as a percentage. For example, a recent participant said, “I want $100,000 in return for 25% of my company.” This tells the Sharks what they’re willing to sacrifice to achieve their goal. Once you’ve decided on a goal, you need to do the same thing, which is ask yourself what you’d be willing to do (or sacrifice) to achieve it. For example, if your goal were to get out of debt in 30 months, what would you be willing to do to achieve it? Would you be willing to take on a second job?

Lesson #3: Be tough minded

The people who are able to make deals with the Sharks are very tough minded. They know what they want and they stick to their guns. If you want to succeed in life you must be tough minded and even hard hearted about the choices you make. It might be excruciatingly difficult for you to move away from friends and family but if you’re offered a great job 1,000 miles away that will help you get what you want out of life, you need to be tough minded enough to make the move.

Lesson #4: Understand the importance of priorities

In The Shark Tank and in life, it’s critical to prioritize. You might have five or even more tasks you want to accomplish but you can’t realize all of them at once. You need to make a list of your tasks or the goals you want to accomplish and then prioritize them from the most important to the least important. This will allow you to focus with laser like intensity on your most critical task until you’ve accomplished it. You won’t have wasted time jumping on your horse and galloping off in all directions.

Lesson #5: Know what you’re good at

The Sharks are very smart. They don’t make deals outside their areas of expertise. For example, Damon built his fortune by creating a line of clothes called FUBU. If an entrepreneur is pitching an idea about toys, Damon is likely to say, “I don’t know anything about that space (type of business) so I’m out.” I believe the same thing holds true in life. You need to know your strengths and focus on them to achieve success. You might be tempted to take that high-paying marketing job but if the company is in an industry that’s outside your “space,” you’re just about doomed to fail. Take a pass on it and wait until that high-paying job matches up with your skills and experience.

“I need To Improve My Finances. What Can I Do?”

See how debt counseling can help youOkay, you made a New Year’s resolution to improve your finances but are having a hard time finding ways to do this. If this is the case, here are seven tips that could help you improve your finances this year.

Be a discount shopper year around

If you’re typical, you probably spent a lot of time looking for money-saving coupons around holidays such as July 4, Black Friday and Labor Day. However, retailers are now holding sales all year round and sometimes at unexpected times. For example, in 2012 Christmas sales started in October and continued throughout the season. You should be looking out for the best deals year around.

Make better choices with your 401(k)

Common mistakes made by many people are failing to update their investments on a regular basis or even check on them. Another mistake that is often made is to choose portfolios that are too conservative or on the other hand too risky. Your company’s human resources department probably offers free services that could help you make better choices. For example, Fidelity has free seminars and information available to its clients.

Save 1/4th of your income

The returns on investments today are just not what they once were. In fact, if you’re lucky you might be able to get an average return of 4% on your investments in the years ahead. This means you will need to contribute more to your retirement accounts if you want to have a comfortable retirement. Many financial experts say that you should be saving as much as one-fourth of your income in both after-tax and retirement accounts. Plus, you can’t really rely on Social Security benefits any more as it’s hard to tell what will happen to them in the years ahead.

Consider changing to a credit union

If you feel your bank is charging you a lot of fees that just keep getting higher, you might want to switch to a credit union. You should be able to get a better interest rate on your savings accounts than your bank, along with lower rates and fees on mortgages and auto loans.

Earn money on the side

If you’re typical, you may not feeling very secure about your job these days. This has driven many Americans to pick up another source of income on the side. If this interest you, the website Payscale.com says the highest paying second jobs are in law, senior copywriting, clinical psychology and information technology security.

Do a better job of managing your time

If you’re trying to manage two jobs, it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed. You can combat this by learning to wake up early, stay organized, and avoid things that waste your time such as television. Many people who are juggling jobs say they work on weekends or even take a leave from their regular jobs so they can focus on their other one exclusively at least for a few months.

Prepare to face life after 40

Did you know that in most professions, your income will stop rising about the time you reach age 40. The website Payscale.com has found that in many jobs your earnings will rise fast in your 20s and 30s as you become more valuable. However, around the middle of your career you may plateau and salary increases will slow down for you. You can prepare for this by ramping up some side income. This could help make up for what you might lose in terms of your full-time job.

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