What can ‘Bob’s Burgers’ teach you about being an entrepreneur?

Image: FOX

One of the most entrepreneurial TV families also happens to be an animated one. For seven seasons on the series “Bob’s Burgers,” we’ve watched The Belcher family run a restaurant in a small, seaside community. The eatery is named after Bob, the family patriarch and owner, who operates the business alongside his wife Linda and their three children Gene, Tina, and Louise. 

When a small business is depicted on TV, it’s generally done in a quaint and lowkey manner. Details like the daily lack of customers in a clothing shop or employees taking frequent breaks don’t seem to affect the company’s bottom line. Bob’s Burgers, on the other hand, keeps the trials and tribulations of running a storefront in check because the burger joint is practically one of the main characters. 

The family faces all kinds of issues on behalf of their business ranging from sudden health inspections, negative reviews, and the ever-present worry about breaking even, especially since their biggest competitor happens to be located across the street. The struggle is real, and it’s also hilarious and relatable to entrepreneurs at all stages with their small business. 

As the show heads into its eighth season, let’s take a moment to savor a “New Bacon-ings” burger and look back at the entrepreneurial lessons learned from the ultimate in mom and pop storefronts.

1. Surround yourself with an incredible team

Because Bob’s Burgers is a family business, every member of the Belcher family plays a role in keeping the restaurant thriving daily — even the kids. 

In one episode, Bob recalls his own childhood spent working in his father’s restaurant and *fires* his children so they can enjoy their summer vacation. In their place, he hires a family friend and former bank robber named Mickey to join the staff. Mickey gets let go when he reveals to Bob his plans to rob the same bank again (of course) and Gene, Tina, and Louise are *rehired* by Bob who comes to the realization that he’s actually a pretty good boss and they make a great team.

When you hire your first employee, seek out team players. You can do this by asking questions about their work ethic, seeking out examples of how they contributed at prior companies, and discovering more about their willingness to go above and beyond. 

Later in the series when Bob cuts his hand and must go to the hospital, the kids step up to help run the restaurant. Granted, they wind up turning it into a casino for a few hours but you gotta applaud that kind of teamwork at their age.

2. Perfect your existing offerings and services

All throughout the series, a blackboard in the restaurant background showcases burger of the day specials for customers. There’s the “Thank God It’s Fried Egg” burger available on Fridays, the “Salvador Cauliflower” burger, and one burger dubbed “Hit Me With Your Best Shallot.” 

These specials set Bob’s Burgers apart from the usual hamburger/cheeseburger pack with their clever names and willingness to play with new ingredients. The entire Belcher family is at their best when they A/B test their recipes on customers and cook up new recipes behind the scenes. The “Mission A-Corn-Plished” burger, for example, is served with corn salsa instead of the standard secret sauce that many diner might opt for using on their burger.

3. Remain calm and collected when faced with negative reviews

Bob’s Burgers has had its share of food critics stop by and rate the restaurant, often with harsh critiques. He may be animated, but Bob isn’t immune to being shaken by negative feedback. When a particularly bad review surfaces in the local paper from the popular ‘Moody Foodie” critic, it affects Bob’s state of mind. He obsesses over it and even lets the review affect how he cooks.

While this particular storyline errs on the “do not attempt to actually do this” side (with Bob and the kids breaking into the Moody Foodie’s house and forcing him to eat a different burger), don’t let one negative review shake up your entire world. Admit to the wrong, right the wrong if you can with the customer, and then promote the positive, like an upcoming new burger special you’re planning to debut.

4. Try new things to stand out from your competition

Across the street from Bob’s Burgers is Jimmy Pesto’s Pizzeria, owned by Bob’s rival and biggest competitor Jimmy Pesto. For years, the pair have been duking it out to bring new customers to their respective eateries. They’ve slashed prices and held open houses. Pesto has even gone as far as to also sell burgers to compete with Bob’s existing product. 

What’s an entrepreneur to do but get inventive? Beyond the burger, Bob and his family have sampled plenty of other strategies to draw in more customers. From including a soft serve machine in the restaurant to purchasing a food truck and even getting their own commercial to air during the Super Bowl, they’re literally game to test out and experiment every kind of initiative to better their small business. 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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