4 Small Business Lessons from The Walking Dead


I can’t be the only one out there who is slightly groggy from staying up late to watch Walking Dead last night. First, an aside—yes the show does air at 9 pm EST and yes I did say “staying up late” to watch it, but I have a 3 year old boy, so I was up at 4:30 am that morning (so cut me some slack, OK?). As an online marketing manager, I have both the pleasure and the curse of trying to find business value in literally everything I consume, so, here are 4 small business lessons from The Walking Dead.

Celebrate the small stuff, but don’t lose sight of your goals.

Granted, the situation at your office is probably a little different from the situation on the show (although sometimes they probably feel similar). But you have to take time out to celebrate the small things. After all, little things are what add up to big wins.

Convinced a customer to renew? Found (and fixed) a typo on your blog before anyone else saw it? Fixed an issue for a customer? Celebrate! You’ve done something good. Fortunately, we have not yet been replaced by robots (or zombies), so take a second, be human, and reflect on the good things you’ve done. Don’t take too much time, though, because there’s still work to be done.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Employees Happy

Look for simple solutions.

Tanks are great—you can run over a lot of zombies in a tank—but tanks run out of gas. Guns may be quick, but they’re loud and eventually you’ll run out of bullets. The characters on The Walking Dead are great examples of the fact that simplicity is sometimes the best answer.

Don’t look to complicate things. Many times, the best answer is the simplest one. Look to eliminate middlemen and extra steps from your business practices. Try to give your users the simplest, most intuitive product you can. You may find that simplicity is much more difficult to achieve than complexity.

Related: Keep the Organization Simple

You can’t do it all.

I don’t know if you’ve watched the most recent season, but this section of the blog came to me watching a recent episode. In the episode, we follow Glenn as he finds a new group who are transporting a supposed scientist to Washington, DC, because he claims to know the cause of the outbreak and has a plan to save humanity. I said scientist. Not soldier or MMA fighter—a scientist. Well, at one point they stumble across a zombie or two, and while the rest of the group is distracted, the scientist tries to take matters into his own hands. He attempts to pick the zombies off with a gun and misses—endangering himself (and, if he’s right, all of humanity), wasting bullets, making noise, and drawing out more of our undead friends.

The point here is that you can’t do it all. A successful leader is one who surrounds himself with others who can pick up the slack when they come to an area of weakness. So look for people who are smarter than you. You may be great at building tables, or writing marketing emails, or determining the cause of a world-wide zombie epidemic—but that doesn’t mean you’ll be great at accounting for your business, or building a website, or, you know, shooting zombies.

Related: Building a Team Through Shared Goals

Don’t give up. The next time could be the time you succeed.

Will this show ever end? I mean, seriously. Every time it looks like they’ve found the solution, the rug is pulled out from under Rick and the gang and they’re back at square one. If you haven’t seen last night’s finale yet I won’t ruin it, but suffice it to say it fits this mold.

The characters have all had devastating blows dealt to them, but they’ve kept going. Something that I’ve always said is that in any situation, you have two choices: you either quit or you don’t, and if you don’t you may as well keep moving.

The same can be said in the business world. Failure is a part of success. It’s just a fact. Colonel Sanders’ chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before KFC. James Dyson created 5,126 prototypes before arriving at the now-famous Dyson. Face it, things will not always go as you’ve planned. All of these now-legendary entrepreneurs kept going and eventually broke through to success. Will Rick, Glenn, and the gang find the same success? That I don’t know. I guess we’ll all just have to watch.

Related: [Video] We&Co – Embracing Failure

Can you draw any more business connections to The Walking Dead to make your colleagues think you’re working when you’re watching the replays on demand? Let us know in the comments (because I’ve just exhausted all of my ideas).

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow is the Director of Social Media for Commissions Inc (CINC), a real estate technology and marketing company. He's played professionally on Facebook (and other social networks) for more than 7 years now, managing campaigns for brands (both big and small) and individuals (also both big and small). Universally regarded as the greatest ice hockey goalie to ever come from Griffin, GA (by his mom at least), you can find Harry between the pipes on the ice rinks of Georgia (yes, there is more than one) or playing with his 2 kids when he's not perfecting social media ads or binging true crime documentaries on Netflix. Connect with Harry on LinkedIn @HarryKierbow.