Everything I know about Entrepreneurship I learned from Spongebob Squarepants
Now I know what you're thinking. What does Spongebob Squarepants have to do with entrepreneurship? More importantly, what's a grown woman doing watching kids cartoons? Lets just say I have peculiar tastes in television shows and leave it at that.
Spongebob Squarepants is an animated show that highlights the antics of a quirky sea sponge who lives in a pineapple in an underwater city called Bikini Bottom. His best friends are a starfish named Patrick Starr, who literally lives under a rock, and a squirrel named Sandy Cheeks, who lives in an underwater bio-dome. The show has been on the air since 1999 and is one of Nickelodeons top rated and longest running cartoons.
Spongebob is what I like to call a clueless newbie. He has no idea how the world works and no plans to change that. For him, life is all about working at a fast food restaurant and chasing jelly fish. So he would seem to be the most unlikely suspect to teach anyone, anything about something as serious as entrepreneurship. But he does. And rather charmingly, I might add.
Lesson #1 Dont Be Afraid of Having Ideas
In an episode called Patty Hype, Mr. Krabs, the owner of the Krusty Krab where Spongebob works, is hurting for customers. So he asks his employees for some ideas that will bring in business. Spongebob throws out this idea of selling a more colorful version of the restaurants signature burger, the Krabby Patty, called Pretty Patties. Literally, he whips out a tray of Krabby Patties that are every shade of the rainbow.
Immediately Mr. Krabs and Spongebobs co-worker Squidward begin ridiculing him. They laugh in his face and tell him that is the stupidest idea they had ever heard. This angers Spongebob and he storms out of the restaurant determined to sell Pretty Patties.
We have all been in Spongebobs shoes. We share our ideas with our friends and, instead of being supportive, they laugh us into the fetal position. I'll be the first one to admit that I've had some pretty lame ideas in my life. Chances are good that you have too. So have the people who giggled at the one you broached in todays meeting.
The thing is, some lame ideas end up being mega successes (Pet Rock anyone?). And some ideas that look great on paper turn out to be epic failures (Speedos anyone?). Regardless, you should never be afraid of having ideas. Everything in the world that exists today started out as an idea in someones head. You just never know. The next great thing might come out of yours.
Lesson #2 Ignore the Critics
This isn't the first time Spongebob has had a crazy idea. In fact, he has a lot of them and he is often scorned by his peers for them. But one thing Spongebob is very good at, besides making Krabby Patties, is ignoring his critics. While that doesn't always work out well for him, most of the time he manages to get through the insanity alright.
It doesn't matter who you are. Someone somewhere is criticizing you about something. You may not even know that they are criticizing you, but I can guarantee you that they are. Even people who have changed the world for the better- Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, and Oprah- have people who do nothing but speak poorly about them all day every day.
People criticize for many different reasons, but the one that rules them all is fear. Either they are afraid for you or afraid of you. They may be afraid that you will get hurt if you fail or they may be afraid they will no longer have an excuse for their own failures if you succeed. So to discourage you from taking action on your ideas, they criticize them.
Entrepreneurship is scary enough without taking on someone elses emotional baggage. If you wholeheartedly believe in your idea, don't let other peoples fears stop you from pursuing it.
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Lesson #3 Surround Yourself with Positive People
But just as there are people in the world who will do nothing but criticize you, there are people who will support you with love and enthusiasm. When Spongebob storms out of the restaurant amid the laughter of his boss and co-worker, he runs across his best friend Patrick.
Now, Patrick isn't the brightest bulb in the lamp, but he has a big heart and he loves his friend Spongebob. So when Spongebob tells him that he is going to sell Pretty Patties, Patrick jumps right in with words of encouragement and helping hands.
While you probably don't want too many people in your life exactly like Patrick, you do want to surround yourself with as many positive people as you can. Positive people are like kryptonite to negativity. It can only hang around for so long before it weakens and dies.
Lesson #4 Believe in Yourself
So Spongebob opens his Pretty Patty hamburger stand and shouts, I'm ready! Theres just one problem. He doesn't have any customers because he did nothing to market his business. He and Patrick sit and wait. And wait.
Finally, a customer stops by and asks if he sells food. This causes Spongebob to nearly have a stroke whipping out one of his Pretty Patties. Just like his coworkers, the customer laughs and ridicules the sandwich. This discourages Spongebob, and he starts to think Mr. Krabs was right in saying that his idea was stupid.
In a moment of despair, he pulls out a tray with all the Pretty Patties on it. The customer notices he has a burger in his favorite color, grabs it, and starts chowing down. He loves the sandwich so much that he runs off and tells the world about these new burgers called Pretty Patties. Spongebobs restaurant is an instant hit.
It is easy to get discouraged when you start a new venture, especially when you're working hard and not getting any results. The truth is, though, there is no such thing as an overnight success. When people exclaim that such and such company was an instant smash hit, dig a little deeper. I promise you will find years of sweat and toil in obscurity before the spotlight finally shone on them.
I started my business in late 2007 but it's taken me almost a year and a half to learn this lesson and move forward with it. Dont let yourself become discouraged is success is often slow in coming. Keep the vision of your goals at the forefront of your mind to inspire you when the road gets rough.
Lesson #5 Enjoy your rewards
Sponebobs explosive success brought him the one thing he truly desired. The Krusty Krab.
After seeing how much money Spongebob is making in his new business, Mr. Krabs tries to cash in on the success of Pretty Patties and decides to trade the Krusty Krab in exchange for the hamburger stand. Spongebob, of course, is ecstatic because he loves the Krusty Krab and when he gets the key to the restaurant he thoroughly enjoys his time as the new owner.
Your successes are your rewards for your hard work. Celebrate them! Break out the champagne. Have dinner at a fancy restaurant. Pay yourself a bonus. Celebrating motivates you to keep going. Youll be anxious to hit the next milestone so you can party like it's 1999.
Because it is a kids show the episode ends in hilarity. It turns out that the Pretty Patties had some disturbing side effects prompting everyone to come back and demand a refund. Instead of having a wildly successful restaurant, Mr. Krabs ended up with thousands of angry customers yelling at him. So I guess the most important lesson that Spongebob teaches us about entrepreneurship is to know when to get out. On that note, I'll say good luck and good night.
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Posted in Business Other Post Date 08/13/2015