If you asked my Mum, she’d probably say that I’m a fairly smart cookie. And I’d like to think that the building of my teeny tiny empire over the last few years has been a testament to that. Why then, as an intelligent, well-educated thirty-something, do I absolutely love watching television’s lowest common denominator – Love Island?
Well, it’s my guilty pleasure. It’s the kind of TV programme that allows me to switch off my brain entirely. When I’ve had a long day doing one of the myriad of tasks involved in keeping my small business afloat, Love Island is the perfect Gin to my Tonic. And as I’ve been consumed in the Villa and all its antics, I’ve been drawing some similarities between Love Island and running a small business. Maybe the current heatwave has gotten to me a little, but stick with me here, I might be on to something.
Imagine you’re Laura. You’re nice, loving and above all (god forbid I use the phrase) loyal. And out of nowhere, some hot young thing with veneers, surgically enhanced everything and the world’s most practiced hair flip, comes along. Five seconds later, you’ve been done over and your couple is no more.
Let me tell you, that’s exactly how business works. Think of it in terms of your competitors. They release a new product/service that’s better, quicker, cheaper than yours and your customer’s head will almost certainly be turned.
Now, had Laura been a little more savvy, she might have been able to avoid this most heart breaking of betrayals. And, you can too in business. A little more attention to competitors, continual innovation and world-class customer service are all things that you can work on to make sure the Megans of this world don’t undermine your relationship.
Just as Samira and Sam found out, sometimes it’s not enough to just like what’s in front of you. And although they got along, over-enthusiastically laughed at each other’s jokes and enjoyed a little hand-holding here and there, it wasn’t meant to be.
Just as in business, if you’re not totally into it, rethink your game. You live and breathe a small business. It’s the last thing you think about when you fall asleep at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning. So even if your business idea is 100% your type on paper, there’s no point in pursuing it if you don’t completely believe in it.
So, before you commit to something that you aren’t sure about, stop and have a rethink about how you might adjust what you’re doing (even if it’s just slightly) to make sure you can bring your passion along to the party.
Now listen. I’m firmly in camp Jack and Dani, obvs. But come on, they’re pretty vanilla, aren’t they? I mean there’s been no bed hopping, no tearful fights and no raunchy late-night antics from the pair of them since they walked into the villa. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being vanilla. It’s dependable, predictable and proven the test of time.
In every industry, there’s going to be a Jack and Dani. In the greeting cards world, it’s that brand with the illustrated teddy bears that shall remain nameless. I’ve often wondered how a brand like that can still be so widely available and successful. How would my new brand ever compete with the likes of that – available in every chain store and service station across the globe?
Well, let me tell you. You don’t need to be competing with that.
Someone is always going to want vanilla, but it’s unlikely that someone is going to be your target customer. So, don’t try to be something you’re not – you’re way better than vanilla.
Let’s all take a minute to talk about Doctor Alex. Intelligent, good looking, awkwardly amusing and polite. The kind of guy that most women would most definitely be willing to take home to meet Mum and Dad. I mean the boy’s a Doctor for goodness sake. A DOCTOR. But for one reason or another, this lovely gent with persistent sunburn on his cheeks has found it very difficult to find a match on Love Island. Why? Cause he’s a nice guy. And as the saying goes, these types tend to finish last.
What’s my point I hear you ask? Well, in small business, there’s no time to be a nice guy. I prefer to call myself assertive, but some may describe me as aggressive. Back in my corporate days, being called aggressive used to upset me. But I now proudly bear that badge as a small business owner. If you’re not willing to put yourself out there and push your business day in and day out, then perhaps it’s time for you to leave the island.
I’m not going to lie. Part of the attraction to watching Love Island is the judging… all the judging. I mean, some of the clothes that they wear make me blush, and the layers upon layers of make-up are in my opinion, fairly tragic. But I think that’s what I love about it. But would I, given the opportunity, in my early twenties have gone on a show like Love Island? Would I have been daring enough to find my 15 minutes on a show that half the country watches and the other half pretend not to? No chance.
So, when I tune in while applying my anti-ageing facemask in my pyjamas, yes, I’m judging and I’m not afraid to say it. Does that judgement in any way shape or form stop these young ‘uns from pursuing their dream of being famous or actually finding love? Again, no chance.
And that’s how you have to be in small business. There’ll always be someone judging what you’re doing. Telling you to do things differently and raising a smug eyebrow at your latest project, secretly thinking you’ll fail. But, in the grand scheme of things, what does that mean to you? Absolutely nowt. So take a leaf out of the book of the Islanders and never let anyone’s judgment stop you from achieving.
So, there you have it. The striking similarities between Love Island and running a small business. I for one, think it’s uncanny how the two are so alike, or maybe I just need a break from reality television to get my head screwed on straight again. But, it is important to take lessons from every situation in your life, even when trivial and covered in fake tan. That way, it’s totally justifiable to spend your evenings in nervous anticipation for the next twist in the journey of both Love Island and your business.
Andy is the owner of Bettie Confetti, a snarky greeting cards line available at Not On The High Street, Etsy and select independent retailers in the UK.
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