5 business lessons learned from scary movies

Halloween is the perfect time of year to curl up under the blankets on the sofa and watch scary movies under the flickering glow of a creepy pumpkin lantern.

But did you know that there are plenty of great business lessons that you can learn from cinema’s spookiest horror films – provided you can muster the courage to look at the screen?

Matt Perkins, Head of SME Engagement at FreeAgent – which provides a multi-award winning online accounting system for micro-businesses and freelancers – gives his five top business tips that you can learn during your Halloween Netflix session.

Teamwork is important

Making it out of a scary movie in one piece isn’t just about luck; sometimes you need to surround yourself with people who are all working towards the same common goal. Just look at the Ghostbusters, who pull their resources together to save New York from certain destruction. Or the Scooby Doo gang, who (with the possible exception of Velma) are fairly rubbish as individuals, but manage to thwart the bad guys by working together.

Now compare that to the Alien franchise. Despite all of the experience and skills that her team members possess, Ellen Ripley’s squads are brought down by a rogue element in their ranks working with an ulterior motive (cyborg Ash in Alien and nefarious Weyland-Yutani stooge Carter Burke in Aliens). The lesson for business owners here is the importance of fully researching everyone you work with – whether that’s an employee, co-worker or client – and be confident that they want the same results as you do.

Always finish the job

It’s a common cliche for the hero or heroine in a horror movie to breathe a sigh of relief after toppling their nemesis, only to see them come back to life for one final fright (see Billy Loomis in Scream and Michael Myers in Halloween for prime examples). But if they’d checked to make sure the killer was *really* defeated, they wouldn’t have had that final, nasty scare to deal with.

The same is true in business. It’s no good thinking you’ve finished a piece of work just because it looks done on first glance; you need to go back and meticulously double-check everything before you can ship it to a client. Otherwise you may face the unwelcome prospect of tackling all of the work again when your client calls to tell you it’s a Freddy Kreuger-esque nightmare.

Don’t run or hide from your problems

Characters who run away blindly from the monster or villain in a horror film usually end up in a world of pain. That’s one of the reasons why Jason Voorhees’ kill count is so high and why Alien’s xenomorphs regularly wipe out entire spacecraft crews. But when characters are prepared for battle and confront their nemesis head-on (for example the Dream Warriors in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 or Van Helsing in the Dracula movies) the results are very different.

There are many difficult and daunting parts of running a business, but it’s important not to run away and hide from them. The shadowy spectre of something scary like, for example, your business accounting isn’t going to go away – and the more you put off tackling it, the more difficult it will be to master. Put in the hard work, make sure you’re properly prepared and then face your fear head on.

Get the right tools to work with

How often do you see characters in a scary movie let down by the tools they have at their disposal? It could be the mobile phone that can’t get a network signal (Jeepers Creepers, Cabin Fever), or the rusty old car that breaks down and puts them in peril (The Hills Have Eyes, Wolf Creek). Or perhaps they don’t have any tools to work with at all, like the unfortunate characters who try to stave off a zombie attack without any weapons.

In business, good tools are hugely important for the success of your business. You don’t want to be stuck using temperamental, elderly apps and systems to handle key tasks like your email marketing or invoicing; it’s much better having fit-for-purpose technology that works best for your business and which you don’t have to worry about breaking.

Don’t be afraid to call in the experts

One of the best ways to survive a scary movie is by enlisting the help of someone with more expertise than you. For example, Chris MacNeil’s mother calls in priests to exorcise the demon that has possessed her daughter Regan (The Exorcist), Chief Brody hires shark hunter Quint to hunt down the killer great white in Amity Island (Jaws) and the Frog Brothers help to take down Santa Carla’s notorious nest of vampires (The Lost Boys).

In business, there are always going to be times when it’s worth bringing in an expert to help you. It could be a third party professional who you hire to help with a specific part of your business – for example an accountant to oversee and check your financial records or a PR consultant to help you promote your business – but it could also be a friend or family member who you can ask for help. Maybe you have a friend who is a web designer who can help build you a new website? Or a copywriter who can look over your adverts? Use your network and harness as much expertise as you can – it’s usually much better than trying to do everything on your own.

Matt Perkins is Head of SME Engagement at FreeAgent.  FreeAgent provides a multi-award winning cloud accounting system for micro-businesses, freelancers and their accountants. Try it for free at www.freeagent.com