Breaking Bad: A Small Business Survival Guide


Curtis Guilbot, a business coach to Fortune 500 firms and entrepreneurs for 20 years, gleaned these lessons for small business owners from his favorite television series, Breaking Bad.

The Heisenberg Leadership Principles

1.  Make the Blue Stuff

Quality is a component of value.  High-quality products or services deliver tremendous value to customers, and customers generate enormous amounts of word-of-mouth publicity that is both difficult and expensive to come by otherwise. For high-volume businesses, a recommendation can generate a sale from a website or retail store without the owner investing any additional time or money, thus driving down the company’s cost of lead acquisition and total cost of sales.  Customers will always spot quality.

2.  Prepare to Pivot

Walt “broke bad” (or ‘pivoted,’ in business-speak) because he knew he’d never reach his goal with his current business model (high school chemistry teaching). Having a goal isn’t enough, you have to be ready to pivot your people, tactics, or even entire business model when growth has flat-lined, or when sales are in permanent decline.

3.  Family First

Everything Walt did “he did for his family;” yet his choices ultimately destroyed him and his family. Our time is short, and family and friends matter most. But I regularly liberate leaders who have run themselves into the ground to build a successful company, leaving no time or energy for family dinner, vacations, hobbies, working out, kids’ soccer games, date night with their spouses, or even their own rest and recuperation. Some make headlines for all the wrong reasons, their obsession with money driving them to unethical or criminal choices. Stay on the high road. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  That is the Walt’s ultimate lesson for us.

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