First airing in 2003, the TV series Arrested Development is as comical as it is heartwarming. As I recently watched the show on Netflix, I couldn’t help but notice how many legitimate business lessons are entwined into the show’s plot. In an unconventional way, the Bluth family can provide you with some valuable information for your next business venture. Here are a few lessons I noticed in season 1.
- Treat Your Employees Fairly
At the very beginning of the series, we see Michael Bluth being denied a promotion that he expected and clearly deserved. His father instead gave the business to his wife, Lucille, instead. After seeing that his family was incapable of running the business on their own, Michael returned to help.
The lesson: Don’t assume that your employees will always stick around. Turnover is normal for every business, but there are steps you can take to minimize turnover. Set realistic expectations for your employees and show appreciation for the work they do. Chances are that once you lose a good employee, they won’t come back like Michael did.
- Don’t Hide Important Information from Your Employees
While in jail, George Sr. reminds Michael, “there’s always money in the banana stand.” For most businesses, that would mean that you should look at where you started when things look dim. For the Bluth family, it meant that there was a quarter-million dollars in cash hidden in the walls of the banana stand (which was likely not insured). In this season, we also see George Sr. hiding information about international accounts, sending Michael on a goose chase.
The lesson: You need to share pertinent information with those you work with — especially if they might be running your business one day. For the sake of legality and convenience, you need a paper trail of plans, finances, goals, etc.
- Don’t Try Publicity Stunts
Michael’s brother Gob is an aspiring magician who planned to break out of jail as a publicity stunt to help his magic career take off. Not surprisingly, the entire plan falls apart.
The lesson: Publicity is good (and necessary) for any business, but big publicity stunts have a high potential for failure if they’re poorly planned. The bottom line is that you should never do something solely for the sake of publicity. Stick to your company values and make smart decisions that will be worthy of any publicity they earn.
- Spend Your Resources Wisely
Later in the first season, we learn that the entire Bluth family is on the payroll for work they aren’t doing. We also see a pattern of them spending company funds unwisely.
The lesson: Even the best business will fail if money isn’t being properly allocated. You should never be unaware of where money is being spent. There are many important parts of any business, but one thing it can’t survive without is a solid financial plan.