Starting a new business can be grueling. There are risks, obstacles, naysayers, failures and constant pressures along the way. You risk losing everything you have. A strong sense of determination is essential for sustained success. Though it may be quite challenging and complicated at times, the experience can end up being quite fulfilling.

The award-winning show ‘Breaking Bad’ teaches us a lot about entrepreneurship and startup business.Breaking Bad Valuation App

The show is centered around a struggling high-school chemistry teacher (Walter White) who, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, quits his dead-end second job at a car wash and turns to a life of crime; producing and selling methamphetamine with one of his former students (Jesse Pinkman) in order to secure a strong financial future for his family, post-demise. During the course of the show, several elements of entrepreneurship such as operations, strategy, planning, formulation and application (product development, financial management, partnerships and integrations, market expansion, threat elimination etc.) gradually emerge as Walter seeks to make a living for himself in the midst of fierce competition.

Opportunity Identification

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are essentially partners in this ‘drug’ enterprise, with Walter as the leading partner who possesses the quintessential characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. They focus on a product (meth) that has an ever-upward shifting demand curve given its addictive nature. Upon his analysis of the market, Walter realizes that existing products on the streets are adulterated and low quality, and thus identifies an extremely lucrative market opportunity. This demonstrates the importance of identifying potentially profitable market segments that have not been infiltrated by competitors or lack a certain aspect that customers desire.

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Proof of Concept

He uses his expertise to create a prototype; a 100% pure form of meth, harmoniously combining product-orientated and market-oriented strategies. The development not only focuses on the market perspective that takes into account existing consumer demand levels and trends for the product, but also uses purity and quality as differentiating features that its customers (meth-heads) are bound to value; thus creating a lucrative product that will sell itself. After he test-markets the product with a beta tester (Krazy–8) to establish its viability, he begins operations with just one goal in mind; to make money. Goals act as guidelines and provide direction throughout, hence it is essential to determine specific goals before initiation.

Expansion

Once he establishes a footing in the (drug) market under the notorious brand name ‘Heisenberg’, he employs new recruits who have significant knowledge and experience in the drug business and employs a market development strategy by hiring an advisor (Saul Goodman) to manage finances, while approaching distributors to expand his market reach and operations. Naturally, his valuable product catches the competition’s attention and evokes threats to exit the market. He however counters these threats with firm actions, defending his business and remaining strong in the face of adversity.

Venture Capital

Walter eventually gets to a point where his product’s reputation precedes it. Later on, he sends a sample of his product to a large-scale distributor ‘Gustavo Fring’, who approves it and acquires Walter and Jesse’s enterprise, hiring them to produce for him in large quantities. This incident is similar to how entrepreneurs develop a prototype and send a demo/sample to venture capitalists (Gustavo in this case) for approval. By engaging in this mutually beneficial partnership, Walter is able to secure a fixed payroll (much higher than his previous earnings) along with a guaranteed buyer for all of his produce, while only focusing on his core skill-set – meth production, without the hassle of distribution or its associated costs. He makes a wise strategic-change to his business as he is now closer to achieving his goal with greater security and a reduced workload. However, the constant pressure to deliver predetermined quantities before deadlines exemplifies the hardships that entrepreneurs are constantly subjected to in order to maintain a strong reputation.

Founder Relationships

Jesse and Walter have a lot of conflicts and disagreements during the course of their business relationship. As completely opposite personalities, the numerous ups and downs teach them conflict resolution and instill a sense of loyalty between the two, exposing them to the benefits of team work. This aspect of the show demonstrates the importance of selecting the right partners for a start up. A good team is the foundation for successful businesses, as often the nature of the relationship supersedes individual abilities when it comes to attaining results. They eventually help each other out to retain their business (as well as their partnership) when Gustavo tries to break them up and replace Jessie with one of his own men (Gale Boetticher).

Compliance

All the while, Hank Shroder, Walter’s brother in law, who happens to be a DEA agent, is investigating various drug cartels in the area and making drug busts and arrests as the show goes along. His character illustrates the role of an industry regulator, who monitors business activity to ensure that organizations do not engage in any illegitimate activities.

This show exemplifies that nothing ever goes as planned, as is common in the volatile startup life. For entrepreneurs, this demonstrates the importance of identifying alternative strategies and necessitates the preparation of contingency plans to avoid difficult situations. Furthermore, it also illustrates the importance of hard work and limitless efforts required to establish yourself in today’s cut throat economic environment. Entrepreneurs also need to be extremely conscious about quality, reducing wastage, defects and errors to a minimum level to improve efficiency and thus improve their chances for success.

The show also teaches us a thing or two about balancing work and personal life, as Walter struggles to keep this business a secret from his pregnant wife and son, whereas Jesse undergoes a rough relationship with his parents. Both founders learn to better cope with work pressures as they acquaint themselves with the rules of the business; their synergy combined with experiential learning eventually results in better decision-making abilities that enable them to take their business to new heights.

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