Five (more) Lessons from Television: On Entrepreneurship

Ah television, is there anything you can’t teach us? The Simpsons have already made appearances in our humble blog to offer their wisdom on filing taxes, staying sane in the workplace, and getting the kids out of the house during the summer. But we felt that we should give a little bit of love to our other favorite shows that also feature some hard-earned business advice of their own.

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.”

So we took a stroll into TV land to learn a few lessons on entrepeneurship, courtesy of our favorite fictional characters.

George Bluth Sr and the Cornballer (Arrested Development)

Sure it’s banned in several countries, can burn off your fingerprints and incited Bluth Sr. to attack Richard Simmons, but ‘The Cornballer’ is the perfect example of why George Bluth made such a great entrepeneur. Even though he can’t legally sell the thing, and it causes severe burns, he and his family continue to use it. They believe in the product in all of its blister inducing glory, and it holds a central place in the home of his son Michael, well loved and well used. The family has the scars to prove it.

In all of their dysfunction and legal trouble, the Bluth family can teach us a lot about the importance of familial support, and of standing behind a good idea. Then again George Sr was in prison for “creative accounting,” so we’ll end the lessons there for now.

Pierce Hawthorne’s Non-Existent Sandwich Shop (Community)

Community is back in full swing, and in the newest episode, moist towelette tycoon Pierce scopes out an opportunity to invest in one of the members of the study group’s, Shirley’s sandwich shop. Having been let go from running his family’s wet-wipe empire once his father died, Pierce becomes very invested in the possibility of starting up and running his own business.

He wasn’t happy just sitting back with the large amount of severance pay given to him by Hawthorne Wipes – he wanted to start his own empire, just like his dad did. He became very proud of the little restaurant he was helping put together, eventually deciding to take a drunken trip over to his father’s grave, demanding to know “how many sandwich shops HE owned!”

Sadly the school decides to open up a Subway in the spot where the new sandwich shop was going to go, but we have to stand back and admire Pierce’s drive and passion. All small business owners know the feeling of stepping back, looking at their little company, and feeling a twinge of pride. So who can blame Pierce for yelling at his father’s tombstone?

Frank Reynolds and his various investment opportunities (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

What can be said about Frank Reynolds…

Well, a lot can but we try and run a family friendly blog here so we’ll glaze over some of the more colorful shenanigans he’s gotten himself into. But Frank has shown us that he knows how to enjoy himself, even if that means living in unsanitary conditions and becoming involved with weird people who live under a bridge. He is a self-made millionaire, but he continues to show time and time again that life is for living.

A business can completely take over your life if you let it, but Frank didn’t want that. He left his mansion and life of luxury behind because he wanted to sleep on a shared Futon, surrounded by stray cats, and spend time with his friends.

He wanted to live, and while we don’t recommend living exactly like Frank has, it is important to remember to get away occasionally. Just stay out of the sewer…

Dave Rose’s ‘Steak Me Home Tonight’ Truck (Happy Endings)

Dave Rose knew he was good at making sandwiches, and knew he wanted to open  a restaurant. Though it took him an entire episode to figure out he should combine those two particular passions, he eventually connected to dots and bought a food truck called ‘Steak Me Home Tonight.’

The name is a little stupid, but he showed how important it is to take the plunge. If you’ve been putting off starting a business year after year after year, you may soon find yourself comfortable but unhappy in a world full of corporate zombies.

Dave’s story also reminded us of another important rule in business – always remember to say the name of your business in your commercials.

Peggy Hill’s Bookstore (King of the Hill)

We decided to end with one of our favorite female entrepreneurs, Peggy Hill. She has won substitute teacher of the year, run a BBQ restaurant, and, for a brief period of time, owned a bookstore. But when business wasn’t picking up she was worried she could lose everything. Then Dale Gribble came by, sold a gun in her establishment, and asked Peggy if he could part with a few more of his weapons using her store.

Though Peggy wasn’t thrilled by the idea, she agreed and wound up making a tidy sum of money. But she still knew that she had to put an end to things once she no longer recognized her business. She wanted a book store, but had strayed from her passion and ideals, so she walked away.

And people forget that there is no shame in starting anew if your business did not develop like you wanted it to. Owning a small business should be something that you enjoy – it should be a manifestation of your passion. When it isn’t that, and running it is as enjoyable as being stuck in a cubicle all day, then it may be worth starting anew, even if you are successful.

At the very least, it will free up some time for you to flip through the TV and see what other entrepreneurial lessons can be found within.

About Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best.