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Updated: Nov 21, 2017
If you’re one of the 93 million other Netflix subscribers who are happily binge-watching TV after a long day at the office, take heart: All that television viewing may not be rotting your brain after all. In fact, many of the shows in your queue are laced with tips on how to build, manage, and grow your business!
The characters in your favorite shows balance work and home lives, deal with power plays, lead people and teams, and make difficult business decisions just like you – although it seems they lead much more dramatic lives.
Here are a few lessons from your Netflix queue. Caution: Spoilers ahead!
This noir-style drama set in the Florida Keys is ripe with business lessons on how not to run a family business. The mom-and-pop beachfront B&B featured in the show is owned by the Rayburn family: Sally, Robert, and their four grown children (or is it three? The oldest is continually disinherited and reinstated over the course of the show). The Rayburns make a lot of business don’ts, starting with:
Be careful mixing business with family.
When black sheep Danny comes home to run the business, he ends up mixing everyone up with illegal activity — putting the entire family and the business in danger. While lots of families don’t have this law-and-order drama, going into business with family can be challenging and should be treated with caution. It calls for tough, honest conversations about money, debt, and responsibilities. Make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to your goals, the amount of debt you’re willing to carry, and which tasks each of you will tackle.
Stars Hollow has always been a haven for entrepreneurs: just look at Luke’s Diner, Doose’s Market, The Dragonfly Inn, and Miss Patty’s Dance Studio. The much-touted reunion of our favorite fast talking mother-daughter duo finds Lorelai ready to settle down with Luke and Rory finding her way through her own career. Your business takeaway:
Have a succession plan.
When Sookie leaves Dragonfly Inn to take a two-year sabbatical, Lorelai must not only hire a new culinary wizard, but also make a lot of major decisions for the inn herself. Succession plans are important for a business of any size, but particularly with leaner teams. In a smaller business, cross-training can help ensure employees are prepared to step in — even temporarily — to fill a key role when a team member leaves. This keeps responsibilities from falling through the cracks (or on your shoulders!) as you look to recruit a strong replacement. Preparing for every possible entrepreneurial incarnation isn’t always possible, but you can control your response to them. Your flexibility, resilience, and willingness to adapt in the face of change is what will keep your business thriving.
This sweeping look at Queen Elizabeth II’s early years and ascent to power offers thought-provoking takeaways for the business world. As CEO of the crown, QEII must follow rigid rules of engagement. Your lesson:
Hiring is more complex than choosing your friends.
When the Queen must promote someone to the position of Private Secretary to the Sovereign, she clearly favors young Martin, a man she can relate to and enjoy a pleasant rapport with. But she’s quickly schooled that she must promote the more experienced candidate, Sir Alan Frederick “Tommy” Lascelles, who also served her father.
Hiring or promoting the best candidate is something every business owner must face, and assessing candidates objectively is imperative. Though enjoying a good rapport with employees is important, when it comes to expertise, skill set, and experience, you may want to look beyond your immediate circle of comfort. To help choose best, interview in person rather than by phone or Skype whenever possible.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.