Business Development

Five times the small screen immortalised micro business ownership

Hannah Wilkinson | 22 April 2016 | 8 years ago

Acorn antiques
Acorn antiques
Following the sad and untimely death of Acorn Antiques writer and comedy legend Victoria Wood, Business Advice paid tribute by uncovering some ofthe harsh truths about life as a micro business owner that can be found nestled in the sketch and elsewhere among gold-standard British telly.

(1) Acorn Antiques

?Though never given a show of its own, this parody of every soap ever written made it to the West End stage in 2005 and brought a dazzling array of small business challenges with it. While the personal lives of the sketch’s characters are famously melodramatic, Wood was spot on when it comes to the reality of small shop management: refurbishment is expensive, employees are unreliable, and economising without sacrificing quality comes at a cost (coffee made out of antiques, it turns out is a false economy).

(2)?Only Fools and Horses

Though the black-market in which Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad operate is hardly one many would aspire to join, the day-to-day trials and tribulations of small business ownership are showcased all-too realistically in the six series and numerous Christmas specials of the celebrated sitcom. Whether they’re struggling to get the cash together for the Inland Revenue or dealing with suppliers even more incompetent than themselves, Peckham’s most famous entrepreneurs provide a timely reminder that for every idea with the potential to become a unicorn, there are as many destined to remain plonkers.

(3)?Fawlty Towers

?The television programme which has been declared the nation’s official favourite, despite running to only 12 episodes, highlights the full array of small business challenges, from marketing (it turns out that no riff-raff? isnt the sort of message consumers want to hear) to PR (how does one deal with a corpse in a hotel room?). Though the series may be too close to the bone for the owners of many hospitality business owners, many will be able to relate to Basil Fawlty’s reflection when he occasionally gets the customer service offering right: A satisfied customer. We should have him stuffed.”

(4) Cutting It

Though it might not have the reputation of some of the other comedy classics on the list, this Manchester micro business series makes up for it in relevance. The beauty salon where most of the action occurs is a family affair, with proprietor Allie running a hairdressing salon with her husband as a business partner and employing her sisters as nail technicians and it is hardly surprising that tricky people management issues result. Covering the intricacies of succession planning as well as the challenges inherent in staff insisting on sleeping with each other, the series is a crash-course in emotionally intense management.

(5)?Open All Hours

?In many ways, the title says it all: running a micro business is a 24/7 job. There’s also the pressure of trying to innovate without scaring off customers (Awkright’s self-service experiment with apples came decades before anyone had heard of self-scan) and lessons about marketing which sometime come at a cost (toilet rolls with inspiring quotes on, anyone?). But the highlight of the programme’s three series is the way the shop’s proprietors dabble with increasing control of their supply chain by attempting to produce firelighters in-house.

For small business inspiration of a slightly more competent variety, check out this interview with the co-founder of retailer Saltrock

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