5 Business Lessons Tiger King Can Teach Us During COVID-19

April 1, 2020

Hey, all you cool cats and kittens! This is Brandon Latack here at 651 Lab. In business or any other skill, it’s often helpful to emulate experts to find your own success. It’s especially true during these challenging times. What better person to follow than business mogul, Joe Exotic. Below are five lessons any business can learn from the Tiger King.

1: Be Prepared For Emergencies

Where is your EMT jacket if a co-worker’s arm gets bitten off by a tiger? Take note of how Joe Exotic snapped into action and was able to throw on a well-fitted medic jacket before helping his employee from bleeding out. Joe stating, “I’ll Never Financially Recover From This.” illustrated that he surprisingly didn’t seem as prepared on the financial side of things. A little bit of liability and disability insurance would have helped.

Nobody can be ready for every situation, but having plans and processes in place for emergencies will allow you to combat the challenge much faster and efficiently. The COVID-19 pandemic is a potpourri of cash flow, marketing, logistics, employee, sales, customer service, and operational challenges without a clear finish line. Looking forward, below are a few questions to ask to help strategize for COVID-19 and future emergencies.

  • How do we provide sincere and valuable support to our customers, employees, and community during this situation?
  • How do we tactfully and tastefully stay top-of-mind in anticipation of things getting back to normal?
  • What is my company exposed to that competitors can capitalize on?
  • How do we protect those exposures?
  • Does this challenge present opportunities in the market?
  • What vacuums are created because of this situation?
  • If any, how do we capitalize and fill those voids?
  • What ways can we protect our company during a recession?
  • What other emergencies could happen to the company, and what are our action plans for each scenario? Ex: Data breach, natural disaster, recession, new laws or government regulations, competition, servers go down, another pandemic, etc.

Bonus Thought
If you have an employee willing to come back to work six days after having their arm bitten off…you have a keeper.

2: If Life Gives You Spoiled Meat, Make Pizza

Where are all my upcyclers at? If making and selling pizza with expired ground beef isn’t living the American dream, I don’t know what is. Ask any restauranteur, and they will tell you that keeping food costs down allows the restaurant to operate at a nice margin. Joe Exotic took this strategy to heart as he would serve expired donated meat meant for the animals at the zoo.

When faced with challenges in your business, find ways to look for opportunities within the challenge. Often, your competitors may be having the same issues. If you can find a better solution to the problem, you suddenly have a competitive advantage.

A relevant example would be remote working. Many companies didn’t have the infrastructure set up for employees to work from home before the pandemic. By necessity, most businesses now have the support to have their employees work remotely. The companies that can connect with their customers and continue to build relationships while not in the office will have a head start when commerce restarts.

Bonus Thought
Need an extra $3,000 for cashflow or hiring a hitman? Consider hosting a Thanksgiving dinner fundraiser.

3: Focus On Your Customers More Than Your Competitors

Almost everybody has some form of Carole Baskin in their lives. If you ever get to a point where you are considering a murder-for-hire plot against your competitor, it’s probably time to take a step back to reevaluate your mission.

Competition is often healthy to drive innovation, customer service, urgency, a strong workforce, and best practices. Competitors tend to raise each other’s standards, which helps the community overall.

Focusing on your competitors too much tends to have adverse effects. Instead of finding innovative ways to set the benchmark in your industry, you may spend more time being consumed and reacting to what other companies are doing. The customers are often forgotten when the focus is spent obsessing about the competition. Find ways for your competitors to have to chase you.

4: Be Consistent With Your Marketing

There are three things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and Joe Exotic’s online show at 6:00 PM.

When it comes to any marketing, consistency is vital. Most people like to know what to expect in a brand. This includes the brand’s voice, design elements, offers, messaging, consistency, and timing.

If you haven’t already, consider creating buyer personas and a brand guide to make sure your brand is consistent. A buyer persona is a fictional character used to represent your ideal customer(s) based on market research and data about your current customers. A brand guide is a reference tool that helps maintain consistency in what a brand looks, feels, and sounds like. Below are links from Hubspot to help you get started.

Buyer Persona Guide

Brand Style Guidelines

5: Keep Going

If you pick up any trait from Joe Exotic, I hope it’s his determination or the way he safely handles a firearm. No matter what self-inflicted issue was thrown at him, that mullet kept moving forward.

I know you’re supposed to “prepare for the worst and expect the best,” but the Long Island Medium couldn’t even have seen this s#*t coming. 

The weight of keeping the lights on for your employees and their families, customers, your family, and your dreams can be immense. Let’s make sure no stone goes unturned and try to find ways to grind this out until it’s safe to resume regular business again. 

Below are links to a summary of the “Cares Act” and a “Small Business Loan Guide.” Details seem to be changing every day, so make sure to check for the latest reports on the SBA website.

Cares Act

Small Business Loan Guide

Feel free to give me a call or send an email to brainstorm ideas on ways to keep your business running during this challenging time. I don’t want anything in return. If we can find a way to keep businesses going and its employees’ lives aren’t flipped upside down, that would make me happier than any sale.

Brandon Latack