Groundhog Day and Small Business Ownership Are A Lot Alike

The Groundhog Day movie image courtesy of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Six similarities between Groundhog Day and small business ownership.

 

Just the other day I noted the movie Groundhog Day was on the TV again. 

I swear it must be shown at least once a week on one channel or another.  And if it is on, I almost always make an effort to watch it.  This movie about a day that repeats over and over just makes me laugh every single time I see it.

But this last time, I had Latin Business Today on my mind, and as I was watching it, I kept thinking that so many elements of the movie are just like owning a small business.

Here are the six similarities between Groundhog Day and small business ownership:

First step – Blind Ambition   

The Bill Murray character, Phil, is good at what he does, is a tad arrogant, is very ambitious, and he thinks he has things figured out. 

He has a certain momentum in his life and is going with it.  This is where I think a lot of small business people start, particularly professional practitioners (but not just).  Entrepreneurs, particularly as they get started, can be a bit full of themselves and are so focused on their glorious future triumphs that they aren’t always aware of where they are right then – the first step in a long journey like a kid in a candy store, eyes bigger than their means and super-excited.

Second step – Reality Strikes   

The TV film crew gets stuck in the snowstorm that Phil, as a local TV weatherman, predicted wouldn’t hit the area, so he has to return to Puxatawny with egg on his face. This felt to me like the first big fat dose of reality when things don’t go as swimmingly perfect as most entrepreneurs hope (and even expect) would happen. 

But at this point he is still a bit of an arrogant jerk and still thinks he has everything figured out despite the obvious reversal.

Third step – Stuck in a Rut   

Forced to stay in Puxatawny, Phil is annoyed but even in his self-absorbed state, starts to fall in love with the Andie MacDowell character, Rita. 

But at this point the fun starts – the same annoying Sonny and Cher song (I’ve Got You Babe) comes on at exactly 6 am and one Groundhog Day after another starts to roll in.  In the business context, this is just like the reality of just doing the work, over and over, day after day. 

It isn’t glamorous, and it can get tedious, and compared to the excitement of just starting, it can feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

And then there is Ned, the really annoying insurance salesman who dogs Phil on is way to Gobbler’s Nob (where the groundhog event takes place).  And we can’t forget the icy pothole Phil steps into day after day. 

Watching that moment again was what really made me think this was just like opening a small business.  Who among us has not had a rude awakening like stepping into an icy pothole?  

And then we do it again.  And again.

Fourth step – Despair   

As the Groundhog Days repeat, Phil goes through a series of dramatic reactions that would not, hopefully, be typical of a small business person. 

He acts out in his professional context, he behaves badly with women, he engages in criminal activity (because there won’t be consequences in his looping world), he even resorts to several suicide attempts, and every morning he wakes up again to Sonny and Cher.  Argh. 

But in the small business context, an ambitious entrepreneur who expected the world to beat a path to his or her door can feel some of these same emotions when it turns out you aren’t setting the world on fire as you hoped. 

You might not be the next Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but it looks like you will be the little business down the street that people like and depend on. 

Next page- Groundhog Day- small business ownership similairity steps #5, #6 and conclusion  

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About the author

Carlos E. Garcia

Carlos E. Garcia, a Latin Business Today, Partner: Research, Trends, Insights was born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively).  He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research.  Most recently  SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm.

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