The best business owners are always striving to educate and better themselves – and sometimes that means taking lessons from some unusual places. It probably goes without saying that AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad, the story of a high school chemistry teacher turned drug King Pin, might not be the first place you’d turn for business advice. But once you get hooked on the show, it’s difficult to not admire Walter White’s incredible (if not legal) business sense.
Strive for perfection. Walt’s chemistry background makes him the ideal candidate for cooking up illegal substances, but it’s his perfectionism that pushes him and his brand into a whole different arena. Making a product that’s better than your competitors is one thing, but making a product that is totally flawless, or as close to perfect as possible, is another thing entirely and your customers will notice.
Keep an eye on your competitors. Walter White’s line of business is notoriously competitive (and not to mention violent), so not always knowing what his competitors are up to could mean a stolen product recipe, stolen turf, or worse. For a small business, not paying attention to your competitors likely won’t result in a shootout, but it could mean falling behind in your market.
Always think about the next step. To survive in his business Walt has to always be at least five steps ahead of his rivals, always anticipating their next moves so he will not only know how he will react, but so he can influence their actions as well. When his Plan A doesn’t work out the way he wanted, he has a Plan B waiting in the wings. Every business owner should constantly ask “what’s next?”
Don’t always play nice. It’s sometimes tempting to always want to be the good guy and never hurt anyone’s feelings. But, in Walt’s business it’s often necessary to flex some muscle and maybe off a guy or two to get ahead. While I certainly don’t recommend going anywhere close to that extreme, it is important to know when to be the tough guy when it comes to managing your employees and making business decisions.
What business lessons have you learned from unusual places?
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