Avoiding traps: 5 Valuable Lessons Businesses Can Learn From Home Alone

One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is rewatching the classic Christmas movies from my youth. Home Alone is definitely heavy in the rotation, especially now that I have kids that are in the target demographic. But as someone who has younger siblings that always seemed to get their way, I wasn’t always rooting for Kevin McCallister. Deep down I wanted Harry and Marv to give Kevin his comeuppance. Unfortunately, they were ill-equipped to beat an eight-year-old on his own turf and made a lot of mistakes. If I was to conduct a post-mortem with the Wet Bandits, I would reinforce the business lessons highlighted below.

Business Lesson 1: Don’t sell short the competition

There is no way that Harry and Marv should have been bested by Kevin McCallister, but they underestimated him. They thought that Kevin was stupid and might just let them into the house if they asked, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.

How often do we do the same thing? More established businesses often shrug off newer businesses until it’s too late. It’s important to continually conduct competitive analysis and take all of your competition seriously. They might not seem like a threat from the outside, but you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. Maybe that scrappy, young business is building a death machine capable of quickly taking you out and making your business obsolete.

The key, according to Paul B. Brown in an article on Forbes, is to look for every opportunity to maximize the value of your strengths. When you’re going to battle, you’ll want to put your best foot forward, so focus on what you do best.

Business Lesson 2: Have a contingency plan in place

Having a plan in place is important, but what do you do when things don’t go according to plan? Harry and Marv did their due diligence before starting their crime spree. They knew which families were on vacation and for how long. They even knew minute details like when the timed Christmas lights would turn on. And just like in real life, things went smoothly until they didn’t.

Let’s contrast that with what Kevin did. He took the time to think of every possible thing that could go wrong and put a strategy in place to combat that. He even took the time to write his plan down so he could make sure that he executed it correctly. Having that plan in place helped Kevin stay one step ahead of the Wet Bandits the entire time.

Writing down our plans and our goals help us understand what our expected outcomes are and more importantly how we will accomplish them. Putting our goals and plans in writing also give us something to shoot for and helps keep us on track. If you don’t have a backup plan in place, you could end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off or a cat burglar trying to walk on icy stairs when something goes wrong.

Business Lesson 3: Find the right partners

Entering a partnership can be scary. Take Kevin for example, during almost the entire time he was home alone, he didn’t seek help. He tried to do everything on his own. In fact, for the most part, he tried to isolate himself from the outside world. But ultimately, if he didn’t befriend Old Man Marley at that church on Christmas Eve, the ending of Home Alone would have played out much differently.

Businesses should be careful about who they partner with. All of your partners should have to go through a vetting process to ensure they are both trustworthy and provide benefits to your customers or help improve business operations. One reason to enter into a partnership is to take advantage of expertise your partner might have. As mentioned previously, businesses should be focused on exploiting their strengths. Entering into strategic partnerships can enable you to do that while your partner helps defend against one of your weaknesses.

Business Lesson 4: Know when to pivot

Harry and Marv were on quite a winning streak before they tried to rob the McCallisters, but they got greedy. The McCallister’s house was their white whale, or as Harry puts it their, “silver tuna.” Even though everything in the universe was telling them to change course, they couldn’t. At first, it was because they wanted the high-end electronics and jewelry in the home, but that quickly evolved into wanting to best Kevin.

How often do we find ourselves in similar situations in business? We’ve had a long stretch of success, but fail to recognize shifts in the marketplace. Change can be hard, but often it’s for the best. Let’s use the evolution of marketing in recent years as an example.

In the past, it might have been enough to put an ad in the Yellow pages, throw up a few billboards, and maybe run some radio advertisements to get the word out about your business, but that is no longer the case. Businesses that failed to recognize the importance of digital and search marketing have been left behind by businesses that anticipated the changes and proactively responded.

Business Lesson 5: Don’t stress negative reviews

This last one is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. When Home Alone was released in theaters in 1990, critical reception was tepid at best. It currently has a 55% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but has a 79% approval rating from fans. Luckily for the movie’s producers, audiences put more stock in what their friends and family said about the movie than what their local critic thought.

The same can be true of your business’ online reviews. At this moment, your business might have a bad rating, but that doesn’t mean that all of your customers feel that way. That’s why it’s important to focus on delivering an optimal customer experience and encouraging all customers to leave a review. Doing so will lessen the impact negative reviews have on your business. The best way to accomplish this is by implementing an online review management platform that streamlines the process of engaging with your reviews. 

How Podium can help

Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help you build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most to your business. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.


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