When I get an idea for a blog post I write it as a note on my iPhone and then e-mail it to myself. One such idea came to me while watching episodes of The Walking Dead that I had DVR’d and was now watching during a lunch break: “Five small business lessons from The Walking Dead” – catchy, eh! Then I forgot about it!
Then I found someone else had beaten me to it, “5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From Watching The Walking Dead” by Gary Shouldis is a great read and full of good advice, including:
Sometimes You Have To Make Difficult Decisions
At the end of episode 7 in season 2 of the Walking Dead, Sophia (now a walker) emerges from the barn on Hershel’s farm, to the disbelief of everyone. The group had given up trying to find her and were in utter shock when she stumbled out of the barn, after the group had just went on a walker shooting frenzy. Shane started the incident when he broke open the barn lock, an act of open defiance to Rick’s leadership abilities. As the group stands there frozen, Rick slowly walks up to Sophia, shooting her in the head and ending her suffering. A powerful moment in the series that showed why Rick is the leader despite the second guessing by others in the group.
So I revised my thoughts and came up with these 4 more lessons specifically for small businesses:
1. Don’t go into dark places on your own.
Being independent and entrepreneurial is all well and good when you are doing something “normal”. Abnormal or different tasks/projects/careers are best tackled only when you have a strong support network in place around you. If you are starting a new business or are looking to expand your existing business join like-minded people in their search for the Promised Land (or Center for Disease Control!) rather than stumbling in the dark on your own.
2. Everything is harder and takes more time than you originally thought.
Every time Rick and his merry band of travelers think they’re on the right track something happens to slow them down and make their life harder (Sophia disappearing, Carl getting shot, etc). The same is true for small business – there are always things just around the corner that will make your job harder and more time consuming. There are no silver bullets for this – just be aware that is likely to happen and you’ll be less frustrated.
3. Sometimes you have to compromise.
We all want the best in life and in our business, but sometimes the best is either totally out of reach because of cost or other factors. Sometimes it’s OK to compromise if it allows you to keep moving forward – when Carl got shot and they couldn’t find a handy surgeon it was totally acceptable to use a veterinarian. Strive for the best but be sensible and use what’s available.
Experience does count – we can all get wrapped up in the vitality of youth and their unlimited enthusiasm. But the reality is that despite the fact that they are probably much smarter than we’ll ever be – in the scheme of the world and everything, they know nothing! Listen to or, even better, employ an experienced mentor to help you through those scary dark backwoods, they’ve been there before and got out alive!