It’s that time of year again, Halloween. It’s the first in a long line of celebrations that take place in the latter months of the year, and to celebrate we thought we would take a look at the top 5 scariest fictional businesses. As usual with our fictional business posts, we’ll be looking at some of the practical business lessons you can learn from these companies.
They might not be real, but the insights and business lessons they impart are. One thing about us is that we try to find business inspiration from many sources, even fictional ones. This is when you form your company with us you have some great tips to help your business grow.
Check out the rest of our fictional business series. We have many on our blog including one related to company culture, another on science fiction and even one dedicated to Duff Beer. So, what are our top 5 scary fictional businesses – and what can we learn from them?
Creepy, Kooky – But With Legit Business Lessons, Our Top 5 Revealed
There are many scary businesses from the world of fiction that we could have chosen, but we’ve chopped it down to only the very best – or perhaps worst in this case. If we’ve missed one you think we should have included, or you want to add some insights of your own, feel free to comment below.
So let’s get cracking!
Buy n’ Large from ‘WALL-E’
This company is scary to anyone trying to start a business, because they actually bought up every company in the world and effectively created a global corporation that dominated the planet. Not only this, but in the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E the business actually created so much waste that humanity had to leave earth and live in a spaceship.
Scary stuff. But what can we learn from Buy n’ Large?
- Ethics & Corporate Governance Is Essential – Fair practices, codes and ethics are essential in business. Not just to make sure there is fair competition, something Buy n’ Large certainly stamped out, but to keep the social (and in this case environmental) impact positive. We can learn from this that when companies go unchecked, there can be dire consequences.
- Brands Can Be Deceptive – The image of Buy n’ Large doesn’t reflect its effect on the world. The logos and branding look family friendly and fun. In reality, they aren’t. What we can learn from this is that unless you have a good look at the internal machinations of the company, the image their branding gives off might not necessarily be accurate.
- Change Can Come From Within – As the film unfolds, the titular robot character of WALL-E boards a spaceship before the captain (Captain B. McCrea) realises he can change the direction of the company, and the whole of humanity in this case, and re-populates earth with plant life – allowing humans to once again dwell on Earth. What this shows is that change can come from within a company, no matter how ingrained a negative company culture might be.
Buy n’ Large shows us that although ethics may run wild, and go against brand values, they can be brought round by scrupulous members of an organisation determined to change it for the better.
InGen from ‘Jurassic Park’
It’s almost impossible to talk about scary businesses without talking about InGen from the the 1993 film ‘Jurassic Park’. After all, some companies might be evil and scary – but how many actually bring about pre-historic monsters to walk once again on the planet?
But what can InGen teach us?
- Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should – InGen made use of frog DNA and stem cells to breed extinct beings. This is an ethical quandary in itself, but it also illustrates the problem of short term thinking – and what the consequences can be. We can learn here that if you have the ability to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best course of action.
- Technology Has Its Limits – Technological solutions are fantastic, but there’s no magical digital wand that can be waved to solve physical problems. Whether your server goes down or your company documents are lost – it shows that the limitations and consequences of using technology must be considered. And contingency plans should be put in place.
- Hype Doesn’t Mean Success – In the sequel to Jurassic Park, InGen import a dinosaur to San Diego in the hope of generating massive interest. Which it does. However, for all the hype, things still go horribly wrong – in this case with a T-Rex roaming the streets. This teaches us the importance of delivering on any hype or attention in business.
InGen show us that you should be careful with your abilities and use them responsibly, as well as remember that the technology you believe in should not necessarily be relied on. Over hyping and not delivering is a common problem in business too and perhaps one of the more important lessons that InGen can teach us. A good real life example of this is the catastrophe of the much anticipated London Oktoberfest, which was fraught with problems and cancelled after 1 day.
Initech form ‘Office Space’
Most of the scary businesses in our list are from fanciful sources of sci-fi and horror – but the company Initech from the film Office Space is a lot more realistic. A software company, it has many tropes of the modern day office that are perhaps not so scary in terms of pure horror – but can certainly bring about a sense of dread.
Initech can teach us the following:
- Bureaucracy Is A Burden – The main character from Office Space, Peter Gibbons, is a frustrated worker disillusioned with bureaucracy. He is chastised for not filing forms correctly, and has 5 different bosses. This teaches us that nit-picking on bureaucratic tasks and inefficient management structures are detrimental to employees wellbeing, as well as slowing down the business as a whole.
- Treating Employees Badly Can Lead To Consequences – One employee, Milton Waddams (a slow-witted but loyal worker) is forced to move desks multiple times, has his stapler taken away and is bullied by the higher ups – he also has pay withheld before ultimately committing an act of arson in revenge. This teaches us that there is a need to treat employees fairly, they probably won’t commit arson – but there could be other less harmful consequences from lack of productivity to official grievance proceedings.
- There Is Room For Fun At Work! – The employees of Initech are bored, cloistered and operate in silos. They don’t have fun, and this is a motivator for Peter Gibbons to launch a harebrained scheme to leave the company. They have unenthusiastic birthday celebrations, shallow casual Fridays and not much else. This shows that although work should be taken seriously, if you really want to engage employees you need to encourage a sense of frivolity at times.
Initech is the most realistic of the companies on the list. But there are real lessons about avoiding red tape, being fair and allowing a bit of wiggle room for lightheartedness in order to create a more efficient and positive company that employees enjoy working for.
Ghostbusters from ‘Ghostbusters’
What’s scarier than a ghost? Catching a ghost of course! The Ghostbusters franchise is a film series that focuses on the aptly names ‘Ghostbusters’ formed to exorcise New York of supernatural beings.
But what do they teach us?
- Spotting A Gap In The Market Can Lead To Growth – The needs of citizens to defend against ghouls was not catered to before the Ghostbusters came to town. By filling this gap in the market, they grew from a small group of founders operating in an abandoned firehouse to a company taking out television advertisements and taking on employees very quickly. This shows us that spotting a new revenue stream, and acting on it, can deliver tremendous potential.
- Workplace Hazards Should Be Taken Seriously – The characters of Ghostbusters are not only frightened daily, they have significant hazards to deal with in terms of accidents and injuries. Your workplace hazards probably won’t involve being covered in ectoplasmic goo – but it shows that you need to keep any hazards your business might have in mind for the comfort and safety of employees.
- Teamwork Is Key To Success – If the characters of Ghostbusters were motivated by self-interest or didn’t operate as a cohesive unit, New York would surely have been overrun by ghouls. This triumph of the human spirit over adversity is something that all businesses should seek to promote amongst their team.
It’s quite a business. The Ghostbusters show us that taking advantage of demand, preparing for any hazards that come about and teamwork can deliver an effective product to consumers. Nobody could say that the ghoulish slime creatures of the film aren’t managed properly!
MomCorp from ‘Futurama’
The largest company in the TV series Futurama is known as a MomCorp. A supposedly sweet conglomerate with a figurehead ‘Mom’ that is at the helm of a massive global enterprise delivering robotics, food, weaponry and much more to citizens of New New York in the year 3000.
But what does MomCorp give us in terms of practical business insight:
- There’s Room At The Top – Mom does not like anybody’s ideas but her own. This may have meant initial success, but the effect of a snowballing singular vision can sometimes lead a company astray. Whether that’s using alien worms to extract soft drinks (known as Slurm) or ineffectively mining precious resources, it shows us that there is room for insight and conversation in the dealings of a company from the top down.
- ‘Yes Men’ Achieve Nothing – Mom has some minions following her every word, her sons Walt, Larry and Igner. Any form of dissent is stamped out and they are there merely to service her ego. They do nothing. This shows us that keeping people who don’t think for themselves or serve some sort of vanity within a business is inefficient and unsustainable.
- You Need A Fair Deal – MomCorp is owned almost wholly by Mom. But 0.3% is left for her sons. This is not a fair deal, and has consequences when Walt, Larry and Igner turn against her and prevent Mom from carrying out her ambitions. This shows us the importance of providing a fair level of remuneration in order to keep everyone on side in a company.
MomCorp is futuristic and scary. But what it teaches us that listening to junior voices, avoiding those who don’t contribute anything of value and remunerating fairly is of great importance to smooth running business.
Scary Business & Friendly Business Insights
We hope you enjoyed our rundown of this special Halloween edition of our fictional business series, and find the insights that can be drawn from them helpful. It’s great fun to impart great business advice, from established companies or those from fiction, so that when you form your company you are all the more prepared.