5 Crucial Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn from Breaking Bad

By Randall Orser | Small Business

business-meeting-5If you have ever watched Breaking Bad, you will agree that Walter White was a great entrepreneur, albeit in a vile business. With help from his protégé Jesse Pinkman, he built a meth business from scratch and made its influence transcend continents. From the people he chose to deal with to his brute-force ruthlessness when it came to bringing down competitors, here are some 5 key lessons you can draw from the show as an entrepreneur.

  1. The art of negotiation

If you’ve been in business long enough, you may have had your fair share of losses at the negotiating table. While being on the receiving end of disappointment happens at times, you can learn to cushion yourself against it by learning how to make people bend to your will. Some of the most accomplished people in business, the late Steve Jobs being a great example, wheel people in on their desires by making offers the other party would find hard to refuse. In the TV show, Walter and Jesse were masters of this trait. They only made concessions if the outcome would be mutually beneficial. They had all the figures worked out before meeting their associates and would therefore reap profits no matter what.

  1. Network to build cross-border relationships

Walter White didn’t just dream of making his product a success in Albuquerque alone. On the contrary, he was looking to expand to new territories, meeting lots of resistance in the process. To counter this, he started partnering with other meth dealers, among them Gustavo Fring. This partnership increased his influence in Albuquerque and Mexico.

Through his acquaintances, he built a business relationship with Lydia Quayle. This helped him explore new markets in Europe and gave him access to vast amounts of Methylamine, a key ingredient in the making of methamphetamine. You can apply this principle in your business as well. If your business is tech-based for instance, make many friends in the tech industry. This way, you can easily access services and rare talents that will help you grow.

  1. Have intense passion for your product

It is safe to say that Walter White would do anything to ensure quality standards were never compromised. In his newfound trade, he got to make real use of his skills in chemistry, something he loved dearly. Obsessed with quality, he would never settle for anything less than 99% pure. In real business, you have to show this kind of passion in your product or service.

If you have just started a restaurant business, immerse yourself fully in its everyday running. Listen to the concerns and suggestions raised by your employees, from the chefs to the managers. If you are passionate enough, you will be able to create a brand that will be renowned for quality. In the show, a seasoned dealer like Tuco Salamanca could easily tell that Walter White’s product was superior to the others he was accustomed to at first glance.

  1. Only employ the best

Although a high school dropout, Walter White took a chance on Jesse Pinkman. This is because he appreciated his experience as a meth cook. In his first meeting and subsequent dealings with Mike Ehrmantraut, he knew he would be a good addition to his distribution team. Mike knew all the ins and outs of the trade. He had all the right connections, just what Walter needed. Together, the three created a highly pure product and were able to run vast distribution networks. As an entrepreneur, your employees should be at their best, especially when running a new business. If you want to succeed, there can be no room for mistakes.

  1. Develop a sense of ruthlessness

Successful entrepreneurs never got where they are by playing nice. They are always out to crush their opponents. Treat business as a battlefield. Your competitors are the adversaries. You should be on the constant search for ways to make whatever they are offering inferior. In Breaking Bad, Walter White did this perfectly. Take the example of his experience with the drug lord Gustavo Fring. He capitalized on Gustavo’s inability to produce a product of high purity, edging him out of the market gradually.

In the end, Gustavo had no choice but to partner with his adversary. If a rival firm is giving your established firm some intense competition, leverage on your vast resources to deny it a share of your market. Increase your outreach to the best of your ability. Offer better promotions and you will surely get where you want to be.

All said and done, the success of your business lies squarely in your hands. Stick to these steps and you’ll find yourself edging out competition pretty easily. Inculcate a sense of ruthless pragmatism in your approach, be passionate and always value skill.

About the Author

Bookkeeper Extraordinaire Number Crunchers® Financial Services Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.