If you have not watched “Breaking Bad”, then this blog may not make a lot of sense to you so maybe you can do something more useful with your 10 minutes.
Under no circumstances do I advocate the “product”, illegal activities or violence portrayed in Breaking Bad, I am just drawing parallels with the business acumen.
You have developed the product like Walter White, which is wanted in its premium form, and now you need a supply chain network to distribute this awesome product to end customers.
Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time and of the many very good reasons for this, for me, it is its representation of a common man with a lot of talent. However, the big break he desperately wants to be recognised is proving elusive to begin with.
The Breaking Bad story is almost a mirror to how a real-world business can begin – by taking a chance. Mr. White is a talented and extremely knowledgeable chemistry teacher who is aware of his abilities but does not want to take risks. When he receives a Cancer diagnosis– desperation overcomes him to provide financial security for his family. He realises he can apply his knowledge and expertise of Science and Chemistry and turn a run-of-the-mill product into a premium quality empire – what does he have to lose when he has lost at the game of life? Mr. White like most successful entrepreneurs has huge ambition, and his ruthless determination gives him his big break in an unexpected and unconventional way!
As one entrepreneur told me, he doesn’t count sales in terms of money, he counts sales in units sold, he has product obsession like Mr. White. Great entrepreneurs won’t compromise quality and would rather waste a batch and start again than let an inferior product be traded under his brand/name. They also don’t compromise on delivery to their customer at all cost. This is just a few of many Breaking Bad Lessons for entrepreneurs.
Breaking Bad is the only show I have watched twice in my life and being a supply chain enthusiast, I could not help but share my Breaking Bad lessons learned with you!
1. Find Early Adaptors!
Hopefully, you have invented or manufactured a product, which is unique and innovative and found a trustworthy partner like Jesse Pinkman who is street smart to get you, initial customers, to test the market! These early adaptors will give you first-hand feedback to improve your product or tell you how good it is (remember the Boo-Yaa!!)
2. Expand Business by Finding the Right Local Distributors
Now like Jesse, you have found early adapters but you want to grow your business and sell in bulk. The obvious way to grow is to find a right distributor and/or wholesaler in your local market like Tuco Salamanca.
But to find a right Distributors and wholesalers as channel partners is a tough ask and they have a tendency to put in high demand early on, like consign inventory programme which you as a startup or small business might not be able to entertain. So be upfront and straight about what you can offer as service levels!
3. Network to Find Big Fish!
Being a startup, it is not easy to expand territory and customer base. You don’t have the resources and competitors will, without doubt, try all sorts of tactics to stop you taking any of the market share.
When one of the Jesse’s guys vanished and Skinny Pete ducked out so Jesse didn’t have a choice but to think outside the box and find a Bigger and Better distribution channel.
This is where you need to be connected with very well “network” of partners like S James Morgan “Jimmy” McGill, also known as Saul Goodman to find and connect with countrywide distributors.
Walter White would not have connected with Gustavo “Gus” Fring if not for Saul Goodman’s connections!
4. Find Partner You Can Trust (Who is your Jesse Pinkman!?)
As an entrepreneur you need to have keen eye to find right business partner. Walter White spots a talent in one of his former students (Jesse Pinkman) who he found to be already in the small-scale distribution business and convinced him to become his partner.
While Jesse was taking care of business with his contacts for distribution, Walter White concentrated on the higher-value-added part of the business: production and quality control.
5. Take Control of Your Own Distribution
The only thing common in Walter White’s fictitious business and any leading global brand is they want to control distribution of their product to the customer! Not easy but this is where the success lies to control the full value chain in my opinion.
Buy taking control of the distribution can avoid costly or possibly poor distribution channels.
6. How to Go International.
In Season 5 Episode 8 when Walter White met Lydia to get the 9 names of his now-competitor’s distributors, she has offered Walter an alternative opportunity to switch his attention to going International especially in the Czech Republic given her research which showed the largest global demand for their product there. And with this suggestion backed by facts and figures, she has taught him a key lesson by saying
“There is significant advantage of diversification of distribution”!
The question for me is how many entrepreneurs think of ways to diversify channels for distribution? I don’t think many.
The key Breaking Bad lessons here are, while you are innovating the product to create demand, you must think about ways to innovate the distribution channels to grow sales!
The key lesson from Breaking Bad for me is, if you want to grow your business you must take ownership of your supply chain, its distribution channels!
You may have loved him or hated him, but for Mr. White’s character, like some of the successful figures, the greater the success he tasted the more invulnerable he felt. However, this might not be the business lesson you want to learn and this is where the parallels end.
If you have other key takeaways, please leave in comments!
Recommended Books & Courses (and more!)