What an entrepreneur can learn from The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is a fantastic sitcom that has become one of the most popular TV Shows in years. It’s about 4 friends that are scientists and work together; they are also the biggest geeks on the planet. Whether it be Dr Who, Star Wars, Computer Gaming or Dungeons & Dragons - if it’s geeky, they love it! The story starts when a beautiful girl called Penny moves next door to two of the main characters. The programme is all about these five characters, how they interact and grow over the years. The programme single handedly made being a geek cool. However if you study this programme there are a lot of lessons for an entrepreneur or business owner. Lessons that you can apply within your own business to take it to the next level. If you think I’m kidding I’m going to go through all these lessons now. Let’s start with... 1.) You don’t need qualifications to succeed (outer space) In the Big Bang Theory Howard gets to become an astronaut and go into space. Most of the other characters look down at Howard because he only has a degree and not a PHD; yet he was the one that got to go into space (something that all the other characters, especially Sheldon are jealous of).
Society will tell you that you have to have a qualification. You have to get a degree if you want to make something of yourself. That is not true. Although I have a degree it had nothing to do with how well my business has done. That is down to determination and a passion to succeed. In fact my business partner Russell has no qualifications outside of GCSEs. He became a professional magician the day he left school and has gone from strength to strength. It’s not about what qualifications you have. It’s about how badly you want to succeed. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. 2.) Be yourself not what others want you to become Let’s be honest The Big Bang Theory made geeks and nerds cool. Since the programme began more and more people admit to being a geek. The one constant message that is hammered home time and time again throughout every episode is that you should be yourself. Society will tell you that nerds will never get a chance to date a pretty girl. And yet Leonard (one of the nerdiest people in the show) ends up dating Penny, who is the prettiest girl in the show. Even Howard who is portrayed as being hopeless with women ends up marrying a great one. It’s the same in business. You need to make sure that you are being yourself, in other words be authentic. When you are networking and building a reputation it’s very easy to pretend to be someone you’re not. The problem with this is that you will always get found out. If you make stuff up to accelerate the growth of your business all it takes is one person to call you out and then your reputation is in tatters. You also need to be yourself when you are making business decisions. At times entrepreneurs can feel like they are being pulled in a thousand directions. Everyone will give you advice, some of it will be great and some of not so good. The thing to remember is that what works for one person might not work for another. So if you are being offered advice make sure that it fits with who you are and what you want your business to become. Basically be yourself. 3.) You can’t just spend money on everything In one episode Raj and Howard decide that they want to buy a really expensive 3D printer. Realising they haven’t got the money, Howard buys it using his joint account that he shares with his wife Bernadette. She has a higher paying job than Howard and therefore he was able to access the money he needed. The trouble with this is that he didn’t tell her and when she found out she was understandably furious. The episode ended when he decided to send the 3D printer back having learnt his lesson.
A lot of business owners have a business partner. Larger businesses generally have a board of directors. Having a business partner can really help accelerate growth especially if you are both pulling in the same direction. However I hear of a lot of businesses that have been forced to shut down because the business partners just couldn’t get on. Maybe they weren’t on the same page, maybe they didn’t trust each other or perhaps something else. The point here is that if you have a business partner you need to take steps to make sure this is a long term relationship. The perfect example is spending money. If you want something in the business and your partner doesn’t, then you need to come to a conclusion that you are both happy with. What you shouldn’t do is buy it anyway and hope your partner doesn’t realise. I know this sounds obvious but I meet a lot of businesses that have closed down because one of the partners made a similar mistake. The bottom line is that if you have decided to go into business with someone else remember that it’s a partnership. 4.) You have to push through your comfort zone One of the recurring jokes over the first few seasons of The Big Bang Theory was Raj being unable to talk to women. Literally he was so nervous that he couldn’t even say a word. The only time he could talk to the opposite sex was when he was drunk! Then a few seasons into the programme he realised that he had an issue and needed to sort himself out. He ended up not only being able to speak to women but getting himself a girlfriend. What we can all learn from this is that it’s important as an entrepreneur to constantly push yourself outside your comfort zone. Many times there will be things we know we should do within our business but we don’t as it’s something we aren’t very good at. The perfect example is public speaking. A lot of business owners are petrified when it comes to public speaking. They don’t want to push themselves out
of their comfort zone. The problem with this is that public speaking is a really useful skill for an entrepreneur to have. Whether you are delivering a proposal, speaking at a networking meeting or even speaking at a business event it’s an important skill. If you are saying no to opportunities like this because of fear it could be detrimental to your business. My advice would be to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and make sure that you embrace every aspect of being an entrepreneur, even if it’s something you don’t enjoy doing. 5.) Stop with the techno babble My favourite character on the Big Bang Theory is Sheldon. He is just so random at times that I can’t believe the things he’s scripted to say. One thing we can learn from observing Sheldon is that techno babble can seriously turn people off. There are many times he is with his friends and colleagues and he will try to explain something. Whether he’s just speaking to them or using a whiteboard the end result is always the same. He gets too technical, tries to look clever and structures his arguments in a way nobody would understand. He makes things a lot more complex than they actually are and ends up shutting people down so they aren’t invested in what he has to say.
We can learn a lot from watching Sheldon do this. As a business owner there are many times when you will have to explain something to someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge of your industry as you: it could be a proposal being delivered in a meeting; it could be pitching a customer or potential client; it could even be to your staff or a competitor. Whatever the situation you have to remember to not blind people with science. When you do pitch someone about your industry or what you do it’s important to keep things as simple as you can. Using lots of industry jargon or tech speak can switch people off. If your goal is to have people take action after you speak to them, then using this strategy can actually cause them to become disinterested. Either that or they will think you are showing off. If you are trying to explain something to an audience keep it simple and focus on the features and benefits not on the technical specs. I remember what my old sales mentor said to me: KISS it don’t KILL it. In other words ‘Keep It Short & Simple don’t Keep It Long & Lethal’. 6.) If you want it go and get it Earlier I talked about Howard getting a job with NASA even though he was the least qualified out of the whole group. The other thing about Howard is that he always wanted to be an astronaut and go into space. It was a dream of his for a long time. However unlike other people that have dreams they gave up on, Howard kept going. This is a theme that we see over and over again in The Big Bang Theory. Penny for example also pushes towards her dream of being an actress. Despite a lot of set backs she never gives up. The important thing to take from this is to never give up on your dreams. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with huge dreams but after a while they settle. I was talking the other day to an older man that owns a shop. He told me that he always wanted to open a chain of shops around the UK but ended up with just one. Now at some point this gentleman gave up on his dreams. Something happened that made him think his goal was unachievable and he settled with what he already had. My question to you is do you plan on settling for anything less than your dream goal? You might not think so however I’m sure the shop owner I spoke about just now never thought he was going to settle. Something happened along the way and he did. The point here is that if you have a dream make sure that you are focused on achieving that dream. Don’t allow yourself to give up on your dreams. 7.) Learn to be organised There is no denying that Sheldon is a genius. He is literally considered the foremost expert in his area. Despite the faults that the guy has (and he has a lot) the key thing is that he knows his stuff. Part of the reason for that is because he is so organised. He has systems and procedures in place for every eventuality. He even has a room mate agreement for God’s sake! It may be verging on obsessive but Sheldon is very organised.
As an entrepreneur is it really important to be organised. Not just organised with your own stuff but it’s equally as important to ensure that your company is organised. There should be systems and procedures in place for every eventuality. One of the things I did when I set up my company is I set it up to work where I wanted to be in five years not where I was at the time. This meant as I grew, the systems I had in place were able to cope with the growth. I knew I was going to grow and expand so I wanted to plan for that. I wanted to be proactive instead of reactive. You might be thinking “I’m not very organised”. That’s fine, I’m not organised either. However I make sure that I surround myself with organised people. My PA Dee is the most organised person I know. It means I can leave the organisation to her; she keeps me organised. So the key here is either to get organised or make sure you surround yourself with people that are. 8.) Learn to change things up Let’s be honest everyone hates Sheldon. At times he winds people up and one of the main reasons for this is his inflexibility. Once he has an idea or a plan set in his mind he will not deviate from this thought process no matter what. The perfect example is his seat of the sofa. He has his own spot on the sofa. The place he has calculated as the best spot to sit in the room based on several factors. No matter what happens he will not relinquish this spot no matter what. This is a cause for constant arguments and also makes him look very odd to visitors. As a business owner you need to be flexible, you need to go with the flow, you need to have the ability to change things up. Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago I had an idea for a Facebook advertising campaign that would run six months and cost about £2500. I planned the campaign and all signs pointed to it working perfectly. After a month I could tell it was failing dramatically. I split tested some changes but it was still performing terribly after month two so I pulled the campaign. What was the point of sinking a small fortune into something that wasn’t working? Instead I took the money and used it in a different area. I was flexible and this saved me a lot of money. There are of course other areas within your business where you can be flexible. Decisions you have made, ideas you have proposed. The list goes on and on. The point is that as an entrepreneur you have to be flexible and be prepared to change things up. So there you have it. Eight entrepreneurial business lessons that you can learn from The Big Bang Theory. Perhaps you can think of more, if you can, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you want to find out more about me please visit www.craig-petty.com If you want to know more about my online learning platform designed to help business owners and entrepreneurs please visit www.maximise-success.com
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