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4 Small-Business Lessons Learned in Reality TV Limelight

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By Caroline McMillan

small_business_bakery(MCT)—The rise of reality TV has created a new breed of celebrities known for their inane routines (think “Jersey Shore’s” gym-tan-laundry combo) and absurd predicaments (“Big Brother,” anyone?).

But some shows also have affected hundreds of small businesses. And as their success stories demonstrate, even the briefest of stints on the national stage can have considerable impact and teach lessons to seasoned and newbie entrepreneurs alike.

The Charlotte Observer spoke with small business owners that have been featured on reality TV shows in the past couple of years to hear what they’ve learned from their Hollywood experiences.

Here are their insights, each valuable whether you have a national bandwagon or an intimate, loyal following:

1. Every business needs a cohesive vision. Before appearing on the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible,” Dana and David Cohen’s Sweet Tea’s Restaurant in Pineville, N.C., was months from closing its doors for good.

The restaurant, once a catering service only, had moved to a shopping center. But no matter how much advertising they did, they struggled with foot traffic. Applying for the show “was kind of a last-ditch effort to get some big advertising,” Dana Cohen said.

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