6 Business Lessons We Can All Learn From Horror Movies

It’s Halloween time, which means it’s the perfect time to fire up some great horror movies. But did you know that you can learn a lot of business lessons from watching the stupid things characters in horror movies do? If not, then keep reading! Here are 6 business lessons we can all learn from horror movies:

1) Be Nice!

You know who occasionally screws everyone over by lying, cheating, or stealing? The jerk. You know what often sets off latent psychic powers in a person who goes off and kills lots of people, good and bad? The jerk. You know who always dies by the end? The jerk.

Don’t be a jerk! Be nice. Guess who lives in “Carrie.” The one girl who was nice to Carrie. Guess who dies. Everyone else. Especially John Travolta and Nancy Allen. They were jerks.

The Business Lesson: Customer Service Matters Be nice, be polite, and be accommodating, even when you want to flip someone off. Chances are that you being mean won’t cause someone to incinerate a high school prom, but it can certainly cause you to lose customers and develop a bad reputation.

2) Understand the Enemy!

Let’s face it: A lot of horror movie villains are supernatural. They take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. Sadly, many of the “protagonists” in these movies make the mistake of assuming the villain is simply human. This kind of assumptive thinking is what leads to a person getting their head punched off by Jason in “Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan.” (Seriously. The guy boxes Jason for a while, gets tired, and then Jason punches his head clear off his neck!)

A little competitive analysis would have taught this dude a simple lesson: You can’t win a boxing match with Jason!

The Business Lesson: Know Your Competition Most of us won’t face supernatural competitors who can’t be killed (hopefully), yet we can all fall into the trap of making assumptions about the competition. Or worse, not paying attention at all to what others are doing. Focusing your attention on yourself and letting go of things you can’t control is a great way to succeed, but it’s important to have some idea of what your competitors are doing so that you can adapt as needed.

3) Finish the Job!

This may be my biggest pet peeve in horror movies. The hero gets in a good shot. The bad guy is down. What does the hero do? He/she either slumps down in an exhausted heap or starts to walk away. Inevitably, the villain gets up and the chase starts all over.

I find myself wanting to yell at the screen, “keep going! Press your advantage! Finish the job!” How many horror movies would have ended far better for everyone involved if the victim had simply whacked the villain in the head when they were down?

The Business Lesson: Press Your Advantage Too many individuals and businesses try to “coast” when they start to see some success. You can never coast! When things are going your way, keep pushing to take things to the next level. You don’t need to be a workaholic, but keep pressing until the job is really finished.

4) Think Big Picture!
In many horror movies, there is one jackass who messes up priorities in a way that gets people killed. Short term profits seem to often outweigh long term safety.

Let’s keep the beaches open even though there’s a shark around!
Let’s build on an ancient Indian Burial Ground but not tell anyone!
Let’s try to sneak an alien embryo back to Earth inside some live people so we can sell them!

This kind of short term thinking rarely leads to long term success. In many cases, it leads to the short-term death of the greedy character. For sustainable success, you have to think long term!

The Business Lesson: Think Long Term It can be tempting, especially in tough economic times, to try some crazy things to make a quick buck. Things that have very little to do with your current brand and offering. The problem is that even if those things work, they can dilute your brand, confuse your prospects, and split your efforts. Short term tactics are fine, but make sure they fit into your long term, big picture strategy.

5) Be Prepared!

This is why so few horror movies feature boy scouts as victims. A common horror movie cliche is the bit of technology that won’t work at a critical moment. The key offenders? Cars and cell phones…

Why is it that people will drive off to a remote location with a bad car. Even if you don’t know that you will be chased by a homicidal maniac, would you really want to drive out to the middle of nowhere in a car that has a bad habit of not starting?

Similarly, why rely on a cell phone that gets spotty coverage in the middle of Philadelphia if you are going to be in the middle of a South American jungle? And let’s not even get into how many characters die simply because they didn’t charge their cell phone battery.

Fix the car, get a better phone, pack supplies, and be prepared! It might save your life.

The Business Lesson: Preparation Matters While there’s no need to be perfect before you start, you should be prepared for some of the challenges and obstacles you will face. Going into a sales call? Prep for the objections you know you will hear every time. Planning an event? Double check and make sure everyone is on top of their task. Giving a speech? Practice what you will say and bring a back up copy of your presentation and handouts.

You obviously can’t prepare for everything, but you are just flat out setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take a little time to set yourself up for success.

6) Check References!

If you were going to have someone move in with you, wouldn’t you want to know a little bit about their history and mental stability? If you were hiring a nanny to help with your baby, wouldn’t you want to know if they were…um…psychotic…?

And yet, time after time, movie characters allow people into their lives without really knowing anything about them. Then they are shocked and appalled when the person turns out to be a whackado.

By the way, the latest horror movie trend is to have a group of people (usually people in their early twenties) drop everything to travel to a remote location with some person they barely know. I know movies try to convince us that young people are stupid, but are they really this stupid??

The Business Lesson: You have to trust the people you do business with, so I am not advocating that you set up 24 hour surveillance on your employees. But doing your due diligence is a must. Check references and make sure you know what you are getting into – especially if you are going to be allowing a person around sensitive information or precious things.