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5 Small Business Learnings from Film & TV

5 Important Small Business Learnings from TV and Film


As a small business leader, catching up on your favourite boxsets may not necessarily feel like the most productive way to spend your time when there is research to be done, paperwork to be filed, or admin to be completed.

However, we all deserve downtime, and if you’ve been turning to the TV for entertainment more recently, you’re not alone. Throughout 2020, online streaming rates hit an all-time high, and an Ofcom study conducted in the UK found that adults were clocking in an average of 1 hour and 11 minutes per day in front of the TV, almost double what it was before the pandemic.

We’ve collated some of the best small-business learnings from classic movies and TV shows so you can spend an evening unwinding in front of the small screen without a hint of guilt.

Get comfortable, grab the controls and put it all down to ‘research’.

Wonka Industries, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A Lesson in Marketing

Nobody provides a better ‘wow factor’ than Wonka. At its core, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the tale of a local business that gained world-wide notoriety with a single PR stunt.

You may not have a chocolate factory, or thousands of children desperate to understand the inner-most workings of your small business. However, it is never a bad time to take a look at what you do have and ask yourself the question: What would Wonka do (WWWD)?

How can you work competitions into your social media? How can you best get people talking about your business? And, perhaps most importantly, have you evaluated your health and safety precautions recently?

Central Perk, Friends
A Lesson in Loyalty  

All too often, as a small business owner, you can become so focused on driving in new business that you forget to take good care of the customers you already have. The management team at Central Perk built up a core, loyal customer base, and continued to treat them well for 10 whole seasons.

Ask yourself how you can promote loyalty within your existing customer-base regularly.  Though reserving a VIP spot in your independent café for one specific group might be a step too far, there’s value in learning to keep your existing customers satisfied before you invest in new business leads.

The Krusty Krab, Spongebob Squarepants
A Lesson in Budgeting

The hit children’s cartoon Spongebob Squarepants may not be your first stop for small business advice, but next time you’re enjoying a lazy Saturday with the kids, take a moment to note an important lesson in budgeting from one of the show’s central characters.

Mr Krabs knows the importance of a strict budget, but as a result, can often be stingy where it matters most, leaving his staff feeling undervalued, and his customers underwhelmed. Learn from his mistakes and develop an understanding of when to tighten the purse strings, and when to splash out.

Dunder Mifflin, The Office
A Lesson in Modernisation

There’s a lot to be learned from the paper people’s paper company, but above all, The Office taught us that it’s important to know when to modernise.

Season 1 opens with a looming threat of downsizing, and we learn that Dunder Mifflin is struggling to compete with industry giants like Staples. Fast forward to season 9 and we see how the company adapted to diversify its portfolio, meet new technology with open arms, switch up its leadership team, and compromise on price points.

Questionable management style aside, The Office reminds us that it’s never a bad time to ask ourselves how our business can evolve to meet the modern world.

Bubba Gump Shrimp, Forrest Gump
A Lesson in Perseverance  

As a small business owner, you already have a lot in common with Forrest himself. You start small, take one step at a time, and above all, you keep going.

When starting his shrimp fishing enterprise, Forrest was hit by challenge after challenge, but it was perseverance that drove him to keep his boat at sea during the thunderstorm. And it was perseverance that led to him finding success as a fisherman, which in turn turned his whole life around, as well as the lives of his closest friends and family.

Small business leaders across the world should take inspiration from this, and know that whatever the industry throws at them, the most important thing they can do is to keep going.

Looking for more small business advice? Speak to one of our Business Advisors by phone or web chat. Wondering what you can ask? Our team can help with a range of topics. 

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