Whether or not you ask this simple question could result in the success or failure of your business.


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Beyond the Tank, the companion series to ABC’s Shark Tank, follows the outcomes of Shark Tank entrepreneurs. The Sharks evaluate the businesses, coach the entrepreneurs, provide advice and feedback, and nudge the entrepreneurs toward success.

It’s no surprise that many Shark Tank entrepreneurs struggle once the spotlight fades. As they face difficult decisions, the entrepreneurs look to the Sharks for help and many fall victim to what Barbara Corcoran calls the “kiss of death.”

Barbara Corcoran, the “Shark” investor who turned a $1,000 loan into a billion dollar business, in a recent interview shared the worst question entrepreneurs can ask.

The kiss of death is asking, “What should I do?”

Corcoran stated that two-thirds of entrepreneurs who have asked her that question have failed. When an entrepreneur asks that question of an investor or advisor, they are demonstrating a lack of the entrepreneurial qualities–vision, creativity, clarity, and ownership–that are needed to thrive.

It’s okay to not have the answers, but it’s not okay to rely on others for the direction of your business.

Corcoran said she is like the “grandparent who supports the business,” not the entrepreneur making the decisions. The kiss of death question is childish and “children don’t grow businesses, adults do,” says Corcoran.

The better question is, “What would you do if you were me?”

This question implies ownership. The entrepreneur is seeking advice but remains steadfast as the decision maker of the business. The entrepreneur is looking to validate their next steps rather than being carried to the next step.

The difference between the questions is subtle, but it just may be the difference between life and death of your business.