A cookbook for business: the Breaking Bad way

The exceptional Breaking Bad has finished, though Netflix subscribers can still re-watch their favorite episodes again.  For those that haven’t watched the phenomenally brilliant series, Breaking Bad is about Walt, a chemistry teacher who, after finding out he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, starts a career cooking crystal meth to bring in enough cash for his family after he’s gone.  His plans soon start to deteriorate rapidly as you can expect with any illegal activity!

Walt, and his partner Jesse may well be walking on the wrong side of the thin blue line but actually they represent great examples of how to survive building and running your own business.

Don’t be afraid to change your career.

Sure, sticking with the same job is the safe and secure option.  You know your place in the office, you know your salary and can plan your life with ease.  However, no-one knows what’s round the corner, what surprising event could knock you off your feet.

Walt faced this turmoil by surprise and sure, he could have kept going with the same dull teaching job that has kept him just afloat for these years.  However, he decided to make a bold career change and go on his own.

Changing your career is not for the faint-hearted and not everyone will create Facebook, but switching careers can still be a great move for anyone with an idea.  If you have skills you under utilise try exploiting them rather letting them go to waste and regretting it.

Never settle for second best.

Producing and selling a unique quality product will ensure you have customers that want to buy from you.  In Breaking Bad, Walt knew his competitors were selling a sub standard, low quality product.  His first course of action was to create a product that was not only high quality (95+% purity compared to the current market average of 60-70% purity) but also unique (it happened to be bright blue in colour!).

Creating a unique product will ensure your business is sustainable, not just another “copy-cat” and is a market leader.  Branding and position in the market is everything!

Building your team.

You can’t do it all yourself and building your team takes a pinch of luck and patience to get it right.  One of the traps a start up business will fall into is focusing on qualifications of your new staff.  You can train staff to do the job needed, what is more difficult is to get them adopted to the company mission and excited about the job.

On Breaking Bad, Walt opted to choose his partner based upon loyalty and his experience in the market.  He choose to train Jesse into his way of working which mean’t he was able to streamline the business into a slicker manufacturing and distribution outfit much quicker.

Choose who you work with.

Walt made a few mistakes in setting up the business.  Initially, he decided to make and sell his product in-house but this was slow progress and had teething problems.  He ended up striking up a deal with Gus, the local “chicken man”.  At first the relationship worked but it quickly became clear Gus was not the meek and mild mannered man he first met.

Before striking up exclusive deals with other people, ensure you fully understand what you are getting involved with.  Sure, you might see short-term benefits and the rewards look great but sacrificing something you built up for a quick gain could cost you in the long run.  Beware of deals that look to good to be true!

Have an exit strategy ready.

Walt’s original idea was to quit after he made enough money for his family to survive on after his departure.  However, once his health improved he started to lose sight of his original objectives and became blinkered to reasoning and refused to retire.

Even after his marriage fell apart, the unsavory demises of many adversary’s and his own near unexpected end, he still refused to give it all up.

With any business there is a time to call it a day- whether this is due to the business failing or reaching it’s pinnacle of it’s success.  When you write your business plan always build in targets, they don’t have to be set in stone but can help future planning and focus your energy to achieve your goal.

Posted by Chris Mollan