What can your business learn from reality TV shows?

How to liven up your digital marketing agency in 2023

Dragons Den investors


Reality TV. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. And did you know that there is actually quite a bit that your business can learn from reality TV?


Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about reality TV shows featuring dancing, singing, baking or even being smothered in insects. Although each of those could form the basis of a very interesting L&D strategy! But we’re thinking of the more business-oriented reality TV shows. Think Dragons Den, The Apprentice, or The Hotel Inspector. Shows that can be very entertaining, but also convey a wealth of business wisdom.


In this article we take a quick look at each of those three shows, and compile ten tips from one or more of them that could actually help your business to thrive in 2023.


Three of the best business reality TV shows

For the uninitiated, here is a quick overview of the shows we just mentioned:

Dragons’ Den

Dragons’ Den was first launched in Japan, and is now a global brand with several international versions. The aim is for entrepreneurs to pitch for investment in their business from the Dragons – five venture capitalists willing to invest their own money in exchange for equity in the business. The two longest-serving Dragons are Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden.

The Apprentice

The Apprentice is fronted by Lord Alan Sugar. Each series features 18 ambitious entrepreneurs who strive to demonstrate their commercial insight and business sense through 12 tough tasks without hearing the fateful words “You’re fired”. The ultimate winner gains a £250,000 investment in their business, and the chance to go into partnership with Lord Sugar.

The Hotel Inspector

In The Hotel Inspector, celebrated hotelier and businesswoman Alex Polizzi visits a struggling British hotel to try to turn things around by giving advice and suggestions to the owner. Although focused on the hospitality industry, many of the lessons learned in the show can also be applied to other business sectors.


So what are some of the things that businesses could learn from one or more of these shows? Let’s take a look:


Ten reality TV tips for your business

Know your audience

This is one of the first lessons to learn for a successful business. Who is your business for? Who is your audience? You need to have a clear idea of your target market, and know why they are your target market. You can then pitch intelligently to that target market. You may have the most amazing business idea, product or service, but unless you get it in front of the right people you will be wasting your time.


Address pain points with solutions

Not only do you need to know the audience you are targeting, you need to understand their pain points. What are the key issues for them and how is your product or service going to help? What difference are you going to make to their lives?


Using examples of how your product or service has helped others can be a powerful marketing tool, as can reviews from real customers to endorse that. And always be ready to provide answers to the questions that people don’t even realise they need to ask.


Build a recognisable brand

You are passionate about your business but how do you convey that to others? What is your brand? Branding is not just about logos, colour themes, packaging and marketing. Though all those aspects are important to the process of becoming recognised. 

But the key aspect of branding is increasingly all about the values that your business holds and portrays, and underpin everything that you do. Your name should become recognised for the values you hold, and this will help to attract and retain customer loyalty.


Put your best foot forward

If you are the founder and/or owner of your business, you also have a key role to play in personifying the brand. In many ways you are the brand, so the way you appear to people and interact with them is critically important to the success of the brand. So in any business-related situation there is no room for complacency. Put your best foot forward, as the saying goes, and make sure you come across as likeable, competent, professional. 


If you are making any kind of presentation or pitch, or meeting new clients or customers, put 100% effort into it so they know you are interested. Always prepare. The old saying failing to prepare is preparing to fail is very true in the business world. 


Work with the right people

As your business grows, it’s essential that you bring on board the right people to help it continue to grow in the way that you would want to. Most startups and other small businesses reach the tipping point where there is simply too much work for the business to be sustainable at its current staffing level. But don’t rush into taking on the wrong person just to have another pair of hands : aim to find the right person for every job.

This means that all your people must understand the business and share your passion for it to succeed. Customers need to know that they care – even when things sometimes go wrong – and that your business can be trusted.


Keep waving your flag

Whatever stage your business is at, always look for opportunities to let people know about your successes. You need to be relentlessly positive and talk yourself up, without undue exaggeration. In the daily grind of business life, it can become all too easy to overlook positive things and small wins, and be overwhelmed by everything there is to do. 


But get into the habit of celebrating the positive, and sharing that with others. So if your sales have increased, a major retailer is interested in your product, your website traffic is growing, or you’ve received some rave reviews, tell the world about it! Wave your flag so that people keep being reminded that you are there and that you are also brilliant!


Have realistic business aims

Balanced against the wave of positivity we have just looked at, you also need a healthy dose of realism. Your business is doing well and you want it to grow, but also back up your business aims with facts and figures. It’s important to do long-term planning, and this needs to be based on a balance of optimism and realism so that you don’t run into either disappointment or financial troubles further downstream.


If you’re a regular Dragons’ Den watcher, you will be well aware of candidates who come in to pitch and have a totally unrealistic valuation of the current worth of their business. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their business is not a good idea, and it may well achieve that worth in future. But it doesn’t represent the current situation so can’t be used as a basis for investment.


Know your numbers

Leading on from the above, in business it’s vital to know your numbers. And many entrepreneurs have come unstuck on this one in Dragons’ Den. 


But in business – not just in the Den – you need to be up to speed with your turnover, costs, profit, and sales projections. Yes, you are completely involved in the day to day activities of the business, but unless you understand the impact of those activities on the overall numbers, there could be a big disconnect between how you think things are going and what is actually happening.


Learn the importance of feedback

Feedback is an integral part of life today. It seems that for every product or service we use, we are asked for feedback. From a consumer point of view this can sometimes seem trivial, but from a business point of view it is essential. 


You need feedback from your customers to know what you can improve, and also to gain more customers. Most customers read online reviews and will be influenced by them. So you need to actively seek feedback and reviews, celebrate the positives, and address the negatives in a mature and charming manner.

Keep things in perspective

The last tip is something that has been seen on all of the reality TV shows we have mentioned. No matter how important your business is, and how much you want it to succeed, you also need to keep things in perspective. It’s always a good idea to have a back up plan just in case things don’t work out. Your life, health and family are ultimately more important than the success of your business. 


So whilst you need to do everything in your power to grow your business and make it succeed, there may come a time when you need to stop. Either it has become a huge success and it is just too much of a commitment to fit into your current life circumstances any more. In which case it may be time to sell it and start taking life a little easier. 


Or it may be that despite all your efforts, you realise it is no longer viable, and it is time to move to your Plan B. Life goes on and, although the change may not be something you ideally would have wanted, you can learn from your experiences and move on to the next thing life has in store.


We hope that this has given you a few ideas as to how to improve your business during 2023. We will explore some of these aspects further over the next few months so do visit us again here soon at Xcite Digital.