Business Tips on TV #6
When sitting down to write a novel, I basically know how the story is going to end. In the world of television, however, very few creators of shows know how the story will end. In the larger business world, entrepreneurs should at least have a goal as to how they see their enterprise concluding, or perhaps how their own role in the business will finish.
It was the two-hour finale of NBC’s “Chuck” on January 27 that got me thinking about how various commercial endeavors end.
Those involved in creating and telling the story of “Chuck” actually were kind of lucky. Not in the sense of being cancelled, of course, but they were lucky to know when the end was coming, being granted a 13-episode run in its fifth and final season. As a result, the tale on each of the show’s characters could be wrapped up.
That, of course, is pretty unique in the television business. Just think of the end of “Las Vegas,” which was cancelled after a cliffhanger episode. How frustrating is that for those making the show and for viewers?
As for the “Chuck” finale, it was done right, with heart, action, and humor - all of the traits that made the show a favorite for so many devoted fans. In fact, few television series have ever finished the way “Chuck” did, with so much of the final two hours harkening back to the very start of the series and, therefore, very much being dedicated to the most faithful fans.
“Chuck” truly went out on its own terms. (By the way, those terms included leaving the door ever so slightly ajar so that some kind of sequel would be possible if the demand and dollars ever materialize.)
In one’s business and career, to go out on your own terms is the ideal. Of course, life and the marketplace often make that a real challenge. But both business owners and employees should set goals, make plans, and be prepared to adjust as time passes.
Some key questions must be pondered. For entrepreneurs: Do you plan to sell the business one day? Will the enterprise be passed on to a family member? If a partnership, are there special criteria to be agreed upon if the partners decide to go separate ways?
And for both business owners and employees: Is this what you want to do for the rest of your career, or are other ventures possible? What is your risk level at various points in life? Are you planning to retire, and if so, what are your retirement expectations?
As the market and your business change, it is important to recognize that goals and strategies will need to be adjusted, or perhaps even the end of your business story will have to be re-written.
But keep in mind the examples of “Chuck” and “Las Vegas.” Namely, you want the business to end on your terms. You certainly do not want to be left with some kind of unfulfilled cliffhanger beyond your control.
Ray Keating is the chief economist of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and the author of “Chuck” vs. the Business World: Business Tips on TV.