The Prisoners’ Guide to Managing Your Business Like a Badass

managing your business

If you’re a die-hard Orange is the New Black fan like I am, you have enjoyed (or are still enjoying) the most recent season, which centers around a prison riot.

Now, I’m certainly not condoning violence and riots, but I thought I’d glean a few lessons for you from OITNB that can help you start managing your business like a badass prisoner. (Or at least a confident entrepreneur.)

Lesson 1: Always Hold the Gun (Even if It’s Invisible)

In Season Five, during the riot, one inmate loses the gun she had been using to wield power, so she just pretends she has it and no one is the wiser for quite a while.

It’s pretty amusing to watch her poking her finger in her pocket, pretending it’s the gun.

So how does this apply to your business? Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we don’t feel like we’re experienced enough to claim authority. We think there are dozens of people more qualified than we are, and this lack of confidence affects our ability to attract new customers.

My suggestion? Pretend you have the gun. Wield it with power. Even if you don’t feel experienced or powerful, fake it.

Sometimes pretending you’re more confident than you really are can help you start to feel it.

Lesson 2: Make Alliances

In the show’s prison world, there are cliques and gangs that rarely interact without hostility. But the riot causes them to have to figure out how to work together for the greater good.

Borders are erased, and some inmates end up being surprised at how much they have in common with others, and how much more they can accomplish.

Being a solopreneur can be lonely work. With no one to bounce ideas off of or ask for advice, you can feel pretty isolated.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, look around for people you can connect with. Attend business networking events to meet others who are in the same boat as you.

Seek out a business mentor, someone who is in your industry, who can share his experience to guide you through making your own decisions. Find others in your industry, and rather than considering them competition, find ways you can support one another (and maybe refer business).

Lesson 3: Be Ready to Compromise

The inmates of Litchfield submit a list of demands to the governor in the hopes of getting better living conditions.

Certain demands, like a steady flow of hot Cheetos, get rejected, and the inmates are forced to negotiate for what they care about most, while also giving something in return, e.g. releasing a hostage.

If you’re Type A (many entrepreneurs are), it can be hard to compromise because you might feel like you’re always right. But when it comes to pleasing your customers, a little wiggle room can always make a huge difference.

Be flexible in your policies and do whatever you can to accommodate customers to keep them happy.

Lesson 4: Trust Your Gut

One of the inmates, Red, decides that one particularly cruel prison guard must be exposed for a murder he committed years before. Sure, she’s cranked up on speed, but she’s committed to uncovering the truth.

The thing is, no one believes her… until he captures her and her prison family and tortures them.

You know those little niggling feelings you sometimes have in managing your business?

Maybe something tells you to try a new advertising channel or find a better vendor. Listen to your instinct, because it’s usually right.

Break the Chains 

What’s holding you back from letting your inner badass prisoner out?

Fear of failure? Lack of motivation? Anxiety or shyness?

No matter the issue, take a cue from the ladies of Litchfield and fake it till you make it. Work at building your confidence up and getting your motivation back, as well as combatting your anxiety/shyness by taking even itty-bitty steps toward collaboration or networking.

You’ll be managing your business like a confident, badass prisoner in no time at all — just minus the whole prison thing.

Want to start managing your business like a badass prisoner? Share which of these tips has inspired you below! 

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing and social media firm. She’s written three business books, and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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