While binge-watching season two of Orange Is the New Black, don't turn off your brain. You never know what valuable business lessons you might learn.
The second season of Netflix's most popular original series launches today. The story of straight-laced yuppie Piper Chapman’s experience in a women’s federal prison for a non-violent crime she committed 10 years prior spotlights on many of the same business tactics that entrepreneurs should keep in mind when running their businesses. So it's worth highlighting some of the takeaways entrepreneurs can glean from the series’ acclaimed first season.
You don't have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate these sharp moves. Here are four rules to follow from season one of OITNB:
- Create a product others can’t. When Piper gets "starved out" by the kitchen staff after insulting the food, she gets back in prison chef Red's good graces by concocting a pain-relieving lotion from cocoa butter and mashed up jalapenos for Red's sore back. What made the lotion so valuable? Nobody else could make it. Entrepreneurs should take this important lesson to heart.
- Forge alliances early. After her rough start in prison, Piper acquires an ally in Crazy Eyes, an unpredictable but loyal inmate who defends Piper against many of the prison's predatory forces. In fact, it's only with Crazy Eyes' help that Piper is able to obtain the ingredients for the medicated lotion in the first place. During the early days of your startup, spend time forging alliances that will come in handy when times get rough.
- Constantly nurture your company. The last thing Piper says to her fiancé before entering prison is "Please keep my website updated," referring to her small business selling artisanal soap. Life will throw you curve balls, but your business still needs constant nurturing.
- Treat every business call as the most important one you'll ever make. When Piper gets distracted and misses an important business call while in prison, her partner Polly loses faith in Piper’s dedication to the company and takes full control of the business. Oops.
If you think prison shows would be the last place you'd find business insights, you weren't really paying attention. What are some business strategies you've seen played out in OITNB?