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Have you heard the song “Baby Shark”? If you have small children, chances are you’ve heard it so many times that it’s burned permanently in your brain. It’s a catchy and thankfully short song, with an accompanying dance that led to the Baby Shark Challenge in 2017 and 2018. Even if you don’t have small children, the phenomenon has spread across all social media platforms so you cannot avoid it. But what, as business owners, can we learn from this? Let’s take a closer look.

First, although the Korean version published on YouTube by Pinkfong in 2016 is the one responsible for making this a global phenomenon, the song is not new. Like many kids’ songs or folk songs, its actual origins are unclear, but it’s been around for at least 15 years. However, Pinkfong’s version was accompanied by a well-produced video with some cute kids doing a catchy dance to an upbeat pop song. This laid the groundwork for the song’s explosive popularity.

1. Lesson number one – you don’t have to be first to market to be successful, but you do need excellent execution.

The song and dance routine are catchy and easily repeatable. This is key for young children, and it also applies to business. You might have a great business process, but if a buyer cannot easily replicate what you do, you aren’t going to get much value for it.

2. Lesson number two – if you want to sell your business, make sure someone can repeat what you do. 

This is related to the above point. Baby Shark is also easily copied and modified. There are countless twists on Baby Shark – my kids were recently asking for Halloween Shark…in March. Why do we want to listen to a Halloween song in March, children?! Anyway, somehow, Pinkfong found a way to make its version stick out from all the others. Its version is one of the most viewed videos in Youtube’s history, with over 2.5 billion views in early 2019.

3. Lesson number three – find a way to stand out from your peers. This is your unique core differentiator – it’s what sets you apart from everyone else.  

Baby Shark seems like it was written to annoy the heck out of parents. It’s catchy and cute, but after several hundred plays of the song, “annoying” is a little too polite to describe it. I have other descriptions but our Marketing & Business Development Director told me we can’t publish them on our website.

4. Lesson number four – you can’t make everyone happy, so don’t try. Focus on your core audience and understand what you can offer to them. 

Of course, not every idea will become a viral plague like Baby Shark. But by examining what makes some things successful, we may find things to help us make our own businesses a little better.


Thank you to James Nakashima, CPA, CA, CBV, Partner of Avail CPA in Lethbridge for the original post. Maybe a special “thank you” to your children for providing you with the motivation it took to produce it? Avail CPA is also a member of Allinial Global alongside KBH Chartered Accountants.

For your business planning and advisory needs, contact KBH Chartered Accountants today: info@kbh.ca

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