When it comes to starting an independent business, many will try, but honestly, most will fail. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, but the know-how and raw talent to turn that spirit into success (and more importantly, money)? Not so much. Luckily, there's at least one naturally born businessman who isn't also a scrooge: his name is Marcus Lemonis and he's the patron saint of struggling businesses.
Lemonis is the star of CNBC's The Profit, and he's always ready and willing to share the wealth (sorry, had to) of his knowledge with the aspiring entrepreneur — and as a result, saves many a business. Unfortunately, there have been many businesses both real and fictional that could have benefitted from his expertise were they around now, but instead went down in (in at least one case) actual flames. We took a look at four of our most mourned failed businesses, and how Marcus Lemonis might've saved them from their fiery demise.
"If you have a business, you want to build a wall around it, and you want to build a moat around it so that no one can knock it off."
Case study: The Case of the Flaming Frozen Fruit
While this fictional seaside frozen fruit shack never seemed destined to make a fortune for the family that owned it, there was always the promise of money in this business. This is an example of when good communication is key, because it was never clear that the money wasn't just a result of the stand's potential. When your business is actually packed full of cash, you need to be even more vigilant in keeping your assets protected. As Marcus Lemonis says, "if you have a business, you want to build a wall around it, and you want to build a moat around it so that no one can knock it off."
Lesson learned: An actual moat would have been helpful in the case of the fictional frozen fruit stand.
Case study: Too Many Degrees of Entertainment
This Pawnee production conglomerate built its business model around being willing to go around the world twice for their clients (720 degrees, to be specific), but then failed to really adapt once their high-flying venture proved to be more like a lear jet straight to bankrupcy. Marcus Lemonis stands by the advice that, "if you're not evolving, you're closing," and if these entrepreneurial playboys had just realized that being the biggest and most audacious wasn't the best way to maintain liquidity, they might still be around, "keeping the home fires burning," as they themselves said.
Lesson learned: While you might think bigger is better, be ready to adapt your business strategy with the market to avoid using up all of your resources.
Case study: Men Need Support Too...Or Do They?
Sometimes a great idea should be just that. Taking every brilliant brain explosion that comes to you in the middle of the night and trying to make it a reality is a recipe for a lot of time and money wasted, and no matter how good all of your loyal friends say your idea is, you should make sure it's, you know, worth it. In the words of Marcus Lemonis, "don't ever confuse loyalty with efficiency." Seriously, don't. Everyone's favorite intrusive New York City neighbor had one such idea — a bra for men. Is this a funny idea with perhaps some good uses? Maybe. Is it actually a good idea? Absolutely not.
Lesson learned: Your friends love you and want to stand by you, but they still won't buy a ridiculous product they don't need.
"You have to surrender to the fact that every idea you have will not be a good one. People fall in love with their ideas. This is a critical mistake."
Case study: Tread lightly, Kittens
There are some problems that just don't need fixing, probably because they're hardly problems at all. A certain entrepreneurial Philadelphian was suffering from sleeplessness because of the volume of his neighbors' cat's paws skittering around the adjacent apartment. What's the fix for a too-loud feline? Tiny cat boots. As Marcus Lemonis would surely tell him, though, "you have to surrender to the fact that every idea you have will not be a good one. People fall in love with their ideas. This is a critical mistake."
Lesson learned: Thinking that kittens need mittens is a critical mistake, because as cute as it is to see your furry friend uncomfortably sliding across the floor in tiny knit booties, it's also just kind of dumb.
Maybe some ideas just aren't meant to survive, but you never know until you try, right? Learn from the mistakes of TV shows past, and next time you come up with a brilliant lightbulb-above-your-head business plan, take some advice from The Profit, which premieres October 14 on CNBC.
Maud Deitch is a Senior Content Producer at Studio@Gawker. She has written for SPIN, The FADER, MTV.com and other publications.