Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful,” paid a return visit to Mendoza in January. Speaking to a packed Jordan Auditorium, he talked about the show, judged three student venture pitches (in his signature blood-letting style), and presented key insights for would-be entrepreneurs everywhere.
Perhaps most surprisingly, O’Leary firmly lauded the unexpected, overwhelming success he’s enjoyed by investing in companies run by women.
“Not some of my returns, but ALL of my returns have come from companies either owned or run by women,” he said about the companies he has backed during Shark Tank’s eight-year run.
O’Leary’s lessons from female entrepreneurs as well as tips in general include:
Set achievable goals.
“If you achieve in a small company your goal every quarter, the morale of the company starts to grow. Employee turnover lowers. Productivity goes up,” O’Leary said. “This is how you keep a team together.”
O’Leary keeps two phones – one for his immediate family and one for employees. He tells employees to call him any time there’s a problem, but it rarely rings because they don’t want to abuse his trust.
Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
O’Leary says companies start seeing trouble when they try to grow from $5 million to $10 million in sales, where delegation to employees becomes crucial. But many CEOs can’t let go. “Their egos get in the way and they fail,” O’Leary said.
Develop superlative time management skills.
Women CEOs tend to allocate their own time and their employees’ time very efficiently, O’Leary has observed. Combine that skill with excellent delegation, and the CEO finds time to think about strategy and next steps.
Use technology as a weapon to gain brand share.
A well-executed social media strategy is the “number one weapon” for small businesses, O’Leary said, stressing the importance of posting high-quality content because anything less will not gain traction.