5 Small Businesses That Made It Big With The Help Of Reality Shows

Photo: bjones27

Do you ever wonder about those business owners who get featured on reality TV shows? Whether they offer professional advice or nanny services, life is rarely the same for the real-life “stars” of these popular and additive docudramas. Here are five small business owners who can share just what being on TV is like, as well as their favorite piece of personal finance advice.

1. Linda Webb (aka “the fraud dog”), Contego Services Group

This expert in fraud is a major player in FraudDog.TV, a series covering the less-than-honest behaviors of individuals worldwide. While Linda admits that reality shows have a tendency to want drama and conflict, her business acts well as a team. She also gives this sage tidbit to anyone looking to make it big with reality TV: “I think it does bring exposure, and helps get publicity, but not as much as one would think. You still need a strong public relations marketing firm, and constant SEO optimization, with social media interaction.”

Favorite money tip: "Do your due diligence first and know who you are engaged with when dealing with money matters. There are a lot of fraudsters out there."

2. Candi Wingate, owner of Nannies4hire.com and Care4hire.com

Candi’s business Nannies4hire was a hit in the household of TLC’s famed reality television family Jon and Kate + Eight, which led to a big increase in brand recognition and a relationship with top media guru Dr. Phil. The show chronicles Kate as she searches for the right nanny for her kids, giving Candi’s business several mentions and an on-air display of one of her company’s nannies. While she cautions people to know what they are getting into with any reality TV contract, Candi shares that TLC was great to work with. “When you work with any celebrities, it is a plus in a business.”

Favorite money tip: "Don't forget to save for a rainy day."

3. Dave Levine, owner of CNV.com Inc (parent company of one of the largest online adult retailers)

Dave shares the full details of his experience on The Millionaire Matchmaker via his website (some text possibly NSFW), but even with the bad dating experience, his outlook in business couldn’t have been brighter. Knowing that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to mention his domain name, Dave got creative with a nickname to market his brand during the two episode gig. “They couldn't promise anything, but I figured there wasn't much down side. Turns out they did allow me to show some of my toys and talk about my business in a positive light so the risk paid off.” Regardless of your thoughts on the adult novelty industry, Dave has proven that reality television can promote your business and your personal brand.

Favorite money tip: "Gold has been a currency and store of value for over 2,000 years, and currencies not based on gold have rarely lasted more than a few decades. I suggest you use a brokerage like E*Trade as your bank account and hold your money in ETF GLD, which is gold. Then sell gold in chunks when you need to pay your bills."

4. Clint Arthur, author of What they Teach You at The Wharton Business School and president of Five Star Butter Co.

Clint of Five Star Butter Co. is no stranger to television, having been interviewed on several major news networks over the years. He also did a spot on Iron Chef, giving him quite the education on reality television appearances. He shares this sobering piece of advice: “You really have to know what you are doing. Once they have tape of you, they've got it and can do whatever they want with it. Practice being on TV as much as you can, get as much time in front of cameras as you can, and watch the tapes over and over to improve. Also have people critique your performances, especially PR pros.” Clint also credits much of his personal, professional, and spiritual transformation to the television experience.

Favorite money tip: "Your 'job' is to figure out how to get the money as fast as possible."

5. Leslie Haywood, inventor of Grill Charms

The high-intensity reality show Shark Tank was not a typical experience for Grill Charms' Leslie, who had lost her father just prior to taping. She lived through the experience, however, and encourages potential business stars to examine their motives for being on TV before they apply. “If you go into it expecting a certain outcome, you run the risk of tremendous disappointment. Instead, go into with the attitude that no matter what happens, this is an amazing opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience. And no matter what, try and HAVE FUN!” The upbeat and motivated Leslie is convinced that the level of success her business has would have been accomplished on her own eventually, but she credits the show for the amount of exposure she received on her small business budget.

Favorite money tip: "If you go one more day and don’t know what HARO is, you’re being lapped by your competition that does."

Reality television has truly changed the landscape of small business. Would you consider appearing if it could boost your buzz for little to no money? If so, here are some tips from the experts:

  • Dave suggests you check out sites that list casting calls for reality TV: Reality TV Casting Call, Reality Wanted, MTV's Casting Call, and Reality Blurred.
  • Try out for everything; think of the lesser shows as practice and a resume-builder for the more important ones.
  • Practice for TV by being yourself in front of a camera at home. Do you have annoying facial expressions or use words that would be a turn-off? You can’t change who you are, but you may be able to refine characteristics that could keep you off a reality show.
  • Find friends or professionals who work in the industry. Yes, reality TV is a BIG industry, and just like any other entertainment scene, networking can get you far — and fast!
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