What an entrepreneur can learn from watching Breaking Bad
For those of you that don’t know Breaking Bad was a TV show that literally took the world by storm. It told the story of a mild mannered teacher called Walter White. One day he was told he had cancer and only had a few months left to live. He decided the only way he could provide for his family was by making a lot of money very quickly so he starting creating Crystal Meth (he was a chemistry teacher and understood how to do this). The five seasons of the programme showed how he went from a high school teacher to one of the most feared drug lords in America.
There is a good chance that you have seen this Breaking Bad before. If you haven’t you really should, it’s fantastic! However there are lot of entrepreneurial lessons we can learn from watching Breaking Bad. After all, in a very short period of time Walter White went from hating his job to growing a massive business. Yes, it was an illegal business however there are still business lessons to from learn from his journey. So without further ado let’s look at what we can learn from the words most famous drug baron.
1.) It’s never too late to start your own business
Let’s be honest, a lot of people live there whole life with an idea for a business that would be awesome. The trouble is they are scared of ever stepping out of their comfort zone. They are scared of quitting their job and doing something that could ultimately fail. I have met several people who in their 40's says that it is too late for them to start a business because they say they are too old.
This simply isn’t true. The best magician in the world is called Doc Eason. He didn’t even start
learning magic till the age of 50. Walter White is the absolute perfect example of this. He spent the best part of his life doing a job that he hated but he was scared to rock the boat. He had the skills and ability but lacked the courage. When he finally decided to go into business for himself he very quickly became the biggest and best in his field. It’s not about your age it’s about how passionate you are.
This can be applied to business owners as well. Many business owners have an idea for another business, a new product line or a new service. They don’t do anything about it though as they don’t want to mess with something that is already working. If you have an idea that will help grow your business just do it. It’s never too late to try something new.
2.) Don’t lose sight of your mission
The reason that Walter White decided to become a drugs lord is because of his family. He didn’t want to leave his family with no money, he didn’t want them to struggle. So he left his job, set up an illegal business and put himself in harms way - all to make sure his family were provided for.
However somewhere along the way he lost sight of his mission. He had more than enough money
to provide for his family for the rest of their lives. He got greedy and devoted his entire life to making more money. This ultimately caused Walter’s wife and son to despise him - the very reason he started in the first place. And let’s not forget it also led to his brother in law being murdered.
So my question for you is are you going along the same path as Walter White? Are you allowing your business to take over your life and therefore losing sight of why you started the business in the first place? Most entrepreneurs start a business because they want to provide for their family. However along the way they lose their focus. Everything becomes about the hustle, grind and 24 hour work days. They convince themselves that they have to work this hard in order to be successful. They end up working all day, every day and never seeing their family. If this dangerous path continues to be the one they travel it can lead to separation or even divorce.
So ask yourself a question. Why did your start your business? And is this the reason you are still doing it today? Make sure you stay on mission.
3.) Make yourself irreplaceable to your clients and your customers
Being a drug lord is a dangerous business; during the entire run of Breaking Bad there were many times when we thought Walter White was going to die. However he almost always escaped whatever horrific fate he was was facing. Part of this was luck, however a big part of it was because he had made himself irreplaceable.
There were three men throughout the series that really wanted to kill Walter; Tuco, Gus and Mike all wanted to kill him at various times. However none of them did. The reason is because he made himself irreplaceable and they couldn’t kill him because he was the best. They knew there was nobody else that they could replace him with that could do as good a job as him.
The same is true within your business. You need to put yourself in a position where you are completely irreplaceable. Clients will always come and go. However you can reduce the amount of clients that leave by making it difficult for them to go anywhere. They need to realise that you are their best option and no matter where else they go they won't get the same quality product or service. How irreplaceable are you to your clients?
4.) Have a product that everyone wants
If we had to pinpoint one thing that Walter did to become so successful, it would be that he had a product everyone wanted. His blue meth was coveted by dealers and customers alike, making
every other product seem second rate.
This is an important business lesson. Make your product or service so spectacular that everyone wants what you offer. A great way to do this is to do a competitor analysis and figure out what everyone else is doing. Then simply do it better. Be the best in your field. Be the person that everyone wants to go to. Simple really.
5.) Stand up to people. Don’t let them push you around
Let’s be honest every time Walter took his business to the next level was when he stopped someone bullying him. We can all remember that scene when he literally blew Gus’s face off. Gus had been a thorn in his side for a long time and blowing him up effectively dealt with that problem overnight.
In business you are going to get haters. You are going to get keyboard warriors, trolls who have one mission in life - to make you feel bad. I have seen many businesses come to a grinding halt because their owners cannot cope with all this hate. I understand it’s difficult, for many years I was bullied online because of my business decisions. I was even kicked out of the Magic Circle, which for a magician can be a big problem! The key thing is to continue moving forward and ignore the haters. People talking about you behind your back have something in common - they are all behind you.
The other thing to take from this is to not to let clients boss you around. Yes clients are very important and you should do everything in your power to look after them. However we have all had that problem client. The person that takes up all your time despite paying less than everyone else. They demand the earth and are never happy. We have all thought, “Wouldn’t it be better if I just dumped them as a client?” However you don’t because you are scared. Scared of not being able to replace the client or the money the client brings in. Basically you let the client push you around.
Sometimes you have to take one step back to take a giant leap forward. Dumping that problem client might free up your time to find several clients who are much better in every way. What I’m saying is be like Walter White and don’t let people push you around.
6.) Be a problem solver, not a problem creator
One thing that I admire about Walter White is his ability to fix any problem situation he found himself in. Throughout every season there are moments when you are convinced that he is screwed. And yet time and time again he finds a last minute solution. Can you remember the time he stripped naked in a shop to give himself a reason for having been missing for days? Whether it’s blowing up Gus or killing Jesse’s girlfriend he always has a solution.
My question is do you create problems or create solutions within your business? Everyone knows that as an entrepreneur you deal with problems daily. It’s how you deal with these problems that defines you. You can either panic and stress which will get you nowhere. Or you can be like Walter White and have a solution for every problem. One thing for sure is that unless you develop the ability to deal with problems quickly and effectively you will never be as successful as you should be.
7.) Don’t try and do everything yourself
If Walter White had decided to go into business completely on his own he wouldn’t have lasted very long; he could make the meth but he had no idea how to distribute it. A big reason for his success in the early days was teaming up with Jesse. Walter was able to make the product and Jesse could focus on selling it. Jesse was an excellent sales person and had a network of contacts he could call on for help. Without Jesse, Walter couldn’t have achieve the success he did.
Within your business do you try and do everything yourself? My first business did okay at best. However when I teamed up with Russell Leeds as my business partner that’s when things really took off. I could focus on what I was good at and Russell could focus on what he was good at, so we complemented each others strengths and weaknesses.
You don’t need a business partner though. You could take on a member of staff to help with the areas of your business that you aren’t very adept at. You could outsource parts of your business to experts who would manage it better than you. You could team up with a competitor to co promote products and services. You could go networking and meet other business owners. What you don’t want to do though is try and do everything yourself, it will never work.
8.) Work hard
There is no substitute for hard work. If Walter White had sat around cooking up a batch of meth occasionally he probably wouldn’t have got anywhere. However he worked very hard, probably too hard (as we discussed earlier) and as a result his business was a massive success.
Do you work hard in your business? Let’s be honest when you first set up your business you are probably running it from home. It’s so easy to get distracted. You end up spending all day every day doing nothing instead of working hard. If you want to get ahead you need to work hard and that means eliminating distractions.
The best way to eliminate distractions is to figure out what distracts you. For example if you are always checking social media switch off notifications. If you spend your time doing unimportant tasks start to make to do lists and prioritise your tasks. If you find yourself watching TV around the house remove yourself from the house. Work in a coffee shop or better still get yourself an office. You can rent a small office very cheaply these days and it allows you to remove yourself from the distractions of working from home.
So there you have it, 8 business lessons we can learn from Breaking Bad. Obviously there is a ninth lesson we can learn as well. Don’t do anything illegal as it will never ever end well.
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