It’s A Wonderful Life, But A Terrible Business

By Service Excellence Training It’s A Wonderful Life, But A Terrible Business

A Blog By Todd Liles

As Christmas comes barreling towards us, the pile of Christmas movies to watch grows bigger. One of my favorites has always been A Wonderful Life. However, it can be difficult to watch sometimes as the main character doesn’t always make the best decisions. In fact, George Bailey is perhaps the worst businessman I’ve seen in movies. Let’s take a look at George’s decisions from the perspective of a businessperson. 

George’s Bad Decisions

Just look at the honeymoon scene. George uses his honeymoon savings to keep the people from taking their shares and selling them to Mr. Potter.

While this is a lovely scene in the movie, he didn’t even get a signed receipt on the money. In fact, he told the lady not to sign anything. That’s charming, but there is no way he will remember the amount given and to whom.

His wife was also complicit in this act. She was the one who brought the money out and handed it to George.

George also made the mistake of surrounding himself with people that caused him more trouble — like his uncle.

Instead of firing his incompetent uncle, he puts him in charge of an $8,000 dollar deposit. In a moment of absolute buffoonery, his uncle gives the money to Mr. Potter.

George is loyal to his family — to a fault — but he is not even the best family man. In service to the community, he puts his family in a terrible situation. 

After his uncle hands over the business-saving bank deposit, George is broken. 

He takes out his troubles on his family. 

He goes out drinking and gets in a fight.

He crashes his car. 

He decides he’s going to end it all by jumping off a bridge. All of this is on Christmas Eve, mind you.

Yes, George is arguably selfless. So, we give him plenty of breaks for his bad business decisions. Yes, George has even helped many people in his community. In fact, the community needs George Bailey. The community is better for having George. That is made plain and simple when Clarence the Angel shows him his impact on Bedford Falls.

What is not clear is this: Is George better because of his community?

While the romantic answer is, “Yes, of course!” the reality says, “Not really.” By the end of the movie, we do see all of George’s friends giving him money to help keep him out of trouble. 

Yes, the scene is touching, but do you think this one moment will be the last moment of trouble in George’s life? 

I think unless George learns how to have a Wonderful Business, then he will repeat his troubles time and time again. He will end up pulling his children into the unrewarding chains of the Building and Loan. George, like his father before him, will die of a stress-induced stroke.

Here’s the part that worries me the most about this movie . . . it’s real life.

Sadly, it’s the life that many contractors live day by day. Many of you are being of service to your community and not of service to yourself or your family. Many of you have made similar mistakes as George.

So, when I give this next piece of advice to ‘George’, feel free to pass it on to the person that may need to hear it most — especially yourself!

How to Have a Wonderful Business

To all the ‘Georges’ out there, I’m your Business Guardian Angel. My name is Todd. I earned my wings helping businesspeople Have a Wonderful Life and a Wonderful Business.

Clarence came here to help you see the value of your life. I’m here to help you change your life by improving your business. I have 5 simple rules for you to follow, George.

Rule #1: Get a business coach

George, you learned how to run a business from your father. He was a wonderful man, but he didn’t know real business. He taught you poorly.

No no, George! Business coaches are not like Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter was a miserable old soul. Good business coaches serve everyone. Mr. Potter was only self-serving.

Rule #2: Earn a profit of 15% to 20%

George, you need to pay yourself more money than what you do. And, your business needs to be able to earn a respectable 15% to 20% profit at the end of the year.

I know that you think that profits are evil. Why is that George?

Do you think that it’s better to struggle every night wondering if you are going to make it through the next day? George, if you went out of business, who would serve Bedford Falls? Profits aren’t evil. Profits allow you to weather the storms, George. They allow you to fight against Mr. Potter. They keep you in service to your community.

Rule #3: Surround yourself with the best talent

Let’s talk about your Uncle George.

Oh, you know that it’s a problem? Then George, why do you let him handle such important tasks?

You can keep him at the Building and Loan if you like, but don’t you think there might be other jobs he would be more suited for? Jobs that he would enjoy more. Jobs that wouldn’t set him up for failure. Yes, George. That’s right. Keeping your uncle here is unkind.

Rule #4: Relax and enjoy your life

Work is not your entire life George. Relax and enjoy your life. Do you remember when you wanted to travel the world? 

You can still do that, George! And, you should do that. You’ve been treating your business like a prison. It’s not a prison! No, your business is a magical transportation machine. It can take you anywhere you want to go George! And, you need to go George. You really need to go. It’s time to relax. It’s time to enjoy a little of this wonderful life! 

Rule #5: Make it happen in 12 months

Here is my last rule, George. And it’s the most important rule of all.

Make it happen in 12 months.

You can make it happen in 12 months, and you must make it happen in 12 months, George! Listen closely. Your time is running out. You will either make these changes this year or continue to suffer. Do you know why you must make these changes!?

Then go do it now! Don’t wait!

Do you have a Wonderful Life and Business

Are you ready to make a change?

Start here.

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