I have a love-hate relationship with the reality TV show, “Shark Tank.” For those who haven’t seen the show, entrepreneurs face off against a group of investors, dubbed sharks, and pitch their products and ideas. The goal is to bait one or more of the sharks to throw down some cash and help the business owners finally realize their dream. The shark, in turn, gets a piece of the profit.
The part that I love about the show is the creative inventions and ideas. These are ordinary folks, most with day jobs, who’ve put their heart and soul into the creations. I enjoy their passion as they discuss their company or demonstrate their product. I often find myself rooting for those with heartfelt stories and philanthropic endeavors.
Now, the segment of the show that makes me cringe is the feedback from the potential investors. Some are brutal, while others deliver the blow a little softer. They can take these inventors’ dreams and make them fly, or crush them like an annoying bug. Like most reality TV shows, I get that there’s an “entertainment” element built in. And, not all of these ideas are great—or even good sometimes. Still, you often find yourself hoping at least one shark will strike a deal with the hopeful inventor.
Then there the contestants who might have a super idea—in theory—but have yet to do their due diligence. The sharks will ask: What’s the overhead? How will you market your product? How will my money be used? Who’s going to produce and sell your product? When the poor entrepreneur stumbles, this is when the blood in the water sends the sharks circling. One by one, they’ll announce “I’m out,” sending the dejected creator home empty-handed.
While I cheer for the victors, I also empathize with those who leave without the influx of cash. Starting a business is no small feat. Keeping it successful is even tougher!
As we head into 2018, many of you are probably thinking about your investment goals. Perhaps you’ve been testing the waters and are now ready to jump into the self-storage industry. Or you’re an existing storage owner and you’re contemplating a portfolio expansion. No matter which path you’re on, you need to prepare as if you’re about to stand before the “sharks,” which might include lenders, suppliers and, of course, your future tenants, who’ll likely be your biggest critics of all.
There’s no doubt that today’s self-storage environment is challenging. Self-storage is the hot real estate investment and everyone wants in these days. Even if you have the funds to buy or build a property, that doesn’t guarantee it will be successful. Just like the courageous entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank,” you must consider your buyer. Customers have choices, and you must show them why your facility is their best option.
So, before you put shovel to ground, take the time to consider your project from every possible angle. Pretend you’re standing before the sharks and you must provide answers to any number of questions posed by your partners, lenders, customers and vendors. Making this investment now will allow you to enjoy the benefits later.
If you’re looking for more insight on self-storage investing, development or operation, join us at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, April 3-6, in Las Vegas. With 45 seminars, eight workshops, six networking opportunities and nearly 200 exhibitors, you’ll find everything you need in one place!