10 business lessons from The Simpsons

Tuesday 9th June, 2015


The Simpsons isn’t just doughnuts and beer. The longest-running cartoon also has some important lessons for business owners.

1. Define your USP and stick to it


Worrying that no one wants to hang out in a dank pit anymore, Moe turns his shady bar into a family restaurant in ‘Bart Sells His Soul’. But given his short fuse and hatred of mankind, the attempted rebrand ends in disaster.

2. Don’t break the law


An obvious lesson perhaps but one that Apu – an inspiration for everyone who works insane hours to keep their business going – forgets by selling out-of-date, dirt-encrusted hotdogs in ‘Homer and Apu’.

3. Don’t overhype your business


When an all-you-can-eat fish restaurant doesn’t satisfy Homer’s insatiable appetite, he takes the Sea Captain to court. It’s the most flagrant case of false advertising since the film the NeverEnding Story.

4. Do your market research


“Sometimes I think you want to fail!” Sadly for the Two Guys From Kabul, Springfield just wasn’t ready for an Afghan restaurant. But if they had done their research, they would have realised that a small American town where meatloaf is considered a delicious treat was unlikely to take to dipping their kafta b’sounieh in the labneh.

5. Business isn’t always glamorous


The story of how two brothers (and five other men) parlayed a small business loan into a thriving paper-goods concern makes for one of the best opening acts in The Simpsons. Hilarious in its monotony, it’s a reminder that one day you’re the most important guy who ever lived, the next you’re some schmo working in a box factory.

6. Succeeding in business is tough


Losing out in the mobile snack business to the Springfield Investorettes and their pitta (or pocket bread) van, Marge feels deflated. Luckily Homer recruits the Mafia to help and soon Springfield is a pretzel town. Not that Upstart recommends involving the Mafia…

7. Technology isn’t always the answer


Worrying that neighbour Ned Flanders is making money off the internet, Homer sets up his own internet business, CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet. The only problem is Homer has no idea how the internet works.

8. Remember your costs


When Bart wins Stampy the Elephant from a radio station, Homer is overjoyed at the fact that children will pay $2 (£1.30) to ride it. “$58 and all of it profit!” cries Homer. Of course Marge points out that Stampy ate $300 worth of food that day.

9. A happy worker is a busy worker


When Homer is promoted due to his dynamic new appearance thanks to some miracle hair growth, he achieves stunning gains in productivity by increasing the amount of tartar sauce in the staff cafeteria. Simple sacrifices can lead to great results.

10. Don’t forget supply and demand


When alcohol is outlawed in Springfield, Homer discovers a lucrative business supplying bootlegged liquor to the town’s thirsty drinkers. But with a limited supply and the authorities cracking down on his monopoly, Homer’s stocks soon run dry.