Whether it’s a killer queen bent on reclaiming her ancestral throne or complex villains wrestling with their humanity, there’s a lesson for every entrepreneur in this year’s crop of popular TV shows. These programs are more than just entertaining; they provide inspirational examples (and in some cases cautionary tales) that will make any dealmaker, founder or mogul-in-the-making a better businessperson.
Here’s a look at the best fictional shows on right now and how they can help startups up their game before it’s too late. (Warning this post may contain tv spoilers).
Lesson: Find allies with similar goals
It’s hard to imagine how a show about a medieval (yet magical) world inhabited by dragons and the undead could provide any real value for entrepreneurs at first glance, but the HBO show has a lot to offer.
Exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, one of the main characters, is on a mission to reclaim her throne, which often pits her (and her army) against assassins, city uprisings and family betrayal. Her closest friends help her navigate dangers at every turn and without them it’s all too clear that this inexperienced warrior would surely have died long ago.
Like Targaryen, entrepreneurs should seek out experienced allies who can help guide, advise and nurture their ambitions. Forging alliances with the right people (and investors) is an important part of turning an idea into a million-dollar product.
Lesson: Do your due diligence
While betrayal, sleepless nights and poor diets perfectly sum up the day-to-day lives of the fictional characters on this Netflix show it could also easily describe the lifestyle of many early-stage entrepreneurs and acts as an important lesson for new startups hoping to find success.
The award-winning Orange is The New Black tells the story of inmates at Litchfield — a minimum-security, women-only prison — who must deal with everything from food strikes to abusive guards.
The show’s protagonist Piper Chapman is sentenced to jail for criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges early in the series and throughout her sentence learns, the hard way, how important it is to do her due diligence when picking friends and allies in jail. For instance, her failure to properly vet friends resulted in one later stealing her money from a short-lived prison panty business in season four and later time in solitary confinement. Entrepreneurs should look to Piper Chapman when bringing on new talent. It doesn’t hurt to make sure your staff are trustworthy and the people you partner with are worthy of your time.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself
When you’re an entrepreneur and things don’t go your way it’s all too easy to end up wallowing in self-doubt. Failure, at any stage, is a gut-wrenching pill to swallow. Founders in need of inspiration about what to do if their company flounders should look no further than Glow, a fictional series about 1980’s female wrestlers in the U.S.
In the show failed actress Ruth Wilder decides to reinvent her career by taking on a role in a low-budget, traveling wrestling show. While wrestling isn’t exactly what she had in mind when she left her small town it turns out to be her biggest break thus far and finally gives her the success she craves. Like Wilder, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to pivot their business and use the skills they already have in their arsenal to start again.
Lesson: Always remain professional
In an industry that’s consumed with power, prestige, and pride it’s easy to forget that one wrong move can throw an entire company into chaos. HBO’s Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley showcases just how complicated the startup world – and the individuals who work in it — can be. Egos can easily get in the way of success and threaten future opportunities.
The unforgettable Erlich Bachman is the perfect example of someone with an oversized personality that lands himself, and the company he represents, in hot water. His crude remarks and frequent off-the-cuff observations have alienated not just his coworkers at times but potential investors too. It’s too difficult to truly discern how successful Pied Piper — the company he works for — could have been if Bachman had been a little nicer in his dealings with investors and workers, but in a town where who you know is just as important as what you know it’s obvious it couldn’t have hurt the company’s chances either.
Lesson: Keep employees happy and engaged
Employees are the lifeblood of any company and Westworld knows that better than most. For most startups, it would be difficult to create, sell and promote any product without great staff, but for Westworld it would be almost impossible.
In this fantasy show about a futuristic amusement park where wealthy tourists can shoot, kill and otherwise abuse humanoid robots that act out western-influenced situations, employees represent more than just tools. They’re robotic staff who are the main attraction, keepers of the park and entertainment all rolled into one, which is why it came as no surprise to fans that they later revolted and attacked their creators.
When the park’s poorly treated robots go on a murderous rampage at the end of the series it’s an accurate, although unrealistic, representation of how a company call fall apart when its team aren’t treated fairly.