Tiger King has become a wildly popular documentary on Netflix. If you haven’t viewed this spectacle, buckle up! It’s a wild ride of exotic animal ownership, epic feuds, planned murder plots, presidential and gubernatorial races, and a lot of completely over the top personalities. Those who tuned in were greeted with sparkly animal prints, cult-like behavior, polygamy, and a whole lot of lessons for how NOT to run your business. Here are my takeaways for your firm:
Training and Onboarding are crucial. Do you know who doesn’t reach their arm into the cage of a giant tiger? Someone who has been onboarded properly and attended ongoing training. Do you know who doesn’t run into a gift shop full of unsuspecting people to tell them a team member just got their arm ripped off? Someone who has prepared for and trained for crisis management. Prepare your team and yourself. The value of training can never be overstated.
Vet your partners carefully. Before you forge a relationship with a business partner or trust someone with any of your business “secret sauce”, ensure that partner is someone you trust. Not everyone has the same passion, drive, and vision as you. And I think Jeff Lowe shows us that just because someone projects an image of success does NOT mean they are successful. Do your due diligence. Sometimes the mansion is rented, and the leather jacket is second hand. Keep in mind that this applies not only to your partners but also to your vendors. Don’t be impressed by the fancy degree on the wall or the slick website until you get to know the substance behind it.
Marketing and positioning matter. Do you cool cats and kittens want to know the difference between Big Cat Rescue and the GW Exotic Animal Park? Marketing. Both organizations involve exotic animals in cages somewhere off a highway. Big Cat Rescue has carefully positioned itself as an altruistic rescue organization. Joe touted his exotic zoo and sold branded condoms. He knew his gun-toting, mulleted self was a big part of the draw. They’ve clearly identified a very different target audience. The show also taught us the importance of digital marketing, and how easy and detrimental it can be for someone to bid on your keywords. Both Carole and Joe knew the value of SEO and digital media, and they used multiple avenues, from their website to social media to videos, to promote their offerings. The takeaway: position your firm carefully.
Read BUSINESS IN THE FRONT: Firm Lessons from Tiger King