4 Business Lessons from The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror TV series that narrates what happens after zombies, or  “walkers”, invade the world. Frank Darabont developed the TV series for AMC based on the comic book of the same name created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore.

Walking Dead

Zombie t-shirt design by CHAMBER 5

A friend of mine introduced me to the series after its third season and I found it breathtaking, full of suspense and intrigue and I’m not alone. The show continues to clock an average of 10 million viewers worldwide and  consistently receives strong ratings from respected critics.

The show is pretty amazing on its own but in studying the characters of Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and the rest of the group, I realized that the series is not only entertaining but also surprisingly educational! Yup, it turns out that surviving the zombie apocalypse can teach you some useful lessons about business and life.

If you’re seeking motivation and practical tips to grow your business, here is some Walking Dead inspired guidance to help you take it to the next level.

(Warning: this article contains spoilers if you’re not caught up with the most recent season as of publication.)

1. Remain Alert

Walking Dead

Andrea (Laurie Holden) talking with “The Governor” (David Morrissey). via AMC.

In season 3, The Governor, played by David Morrissey, captured Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) and took them to Woodberry town (his kingdom). He is a charismatic leader but he his motives are questionable and his way of dealing with threats can be a bit, well, extreme (i.e., wiping out other groups and seizing their belongings) but Michonne’s heightened alertness and sensitivity about all that was going on in Woodberry enabled her to escape before it was too late. This saved her life. Andrea, on the other hand, entered into a false sense of security by falling in love with the Governor and was eventually killed.

In the business world, a keen sense of alertness is one of the vital things that will keep you going. You want to be a Michonne not an Andrea. Being conscious of all that’s going on around you; with your competition, with your employees and with your investors will continue to give you essential clues to help you grow your business. Honing your alert systems will also ensure that you double check things that seem too good to be true before accepting them (funding, offers of free help, etc.).

2. Be a Team Player

Walking Dead

Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) (right) helped Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) (left) escape the herd of walkers in the city. Via AMC.

Though Glenn (Steven Yeun) and others were able to escape the zombie hoards, he decided to risk his life to go back and save Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in the second episode of season 1. This put them in great danger that could have lead to their deaths but because Glenn helped Rick, it paid off later as they were able to form a team that helped them survive longer than if they were going at it alone.

A successful business is made of different kinds of experts with different thoughts working together toward a common goal. This is why being a team player is very important. Learn to carry your team members along in whatever you do, never ignore them and try to listen to whatever they say even if you don’t agree with their ideas. Remember, there’s no “I” in “team”.

3. Upgrade Your Survivor Skills

Walking Dead

Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) ignites an explosion with the use of a sniper rifle and firework to help Rick and the others escape Terminus. Via AMC.

Survivors of the zombie apocolypse need to exert caution with every step they take. They must not only learn to forage for food and destroy unrelenting bloodthirsty zombie hordes, but they must also develop skills to protect themselves against human scavengers. In seasons 1 and 2, Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) is one of the survivors who is incredibly afraid and unsure, choosing to follow the lead of Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) and other group members instead of standing on her own feet. But as the show progresses she grows stronger, soon becoming a fierce survivor who shows up for her group many times.

One of the times she saved her group members is when they were captured in Terminus and were about to be killed. She shoot a firework into a fuel tank in Terminus causing an explosion and saving Glenn, Rick and others who were about to be slaughtered by the cannibals.

Similar survival instincts are necessary to survive the business world. When it comes to growing a lasting and successful business you become a survivor by becoming relentlessly curious, ever optimistic and always open to learning from past mistakes. Adaptability is also key.  You must be able to adapt to changing situations, always prepared to pivot to a new direction and take a new approach.

4. Never Stop Learning

Walking Dead

Maggie (Lauren Cohan) (far left) teaching the Hilltoppers how to throw knives in preparation for the war with Negan. Via AMC.

Based on the evolving story lines of The Walking Dead, we can deduce that learning is an essential tool in surviving the zombie apocalypse. The survivors are continually learning new skills but this is super apparent in season 7, when the Hilltoppers (one of the groups in Washington) learn how to use and throw knifes in preparation for the war against Negan. These new skills pay off at the end of the season when Rick and other Alexandrians use their supreme knife skills to escape.

If you want your business to grow, your learning should never stop. Stay inspired and motivated to continue to develop new skills and aptitudes and encourage (and support) your employees to do so as well.

Yes, You Can Defeat Zombies AND Grow Your Business!

Don’t wait for the apocalypse! Start approaching your business with a strong, determined and open mind. Be willing to work as a team player, learn new things and adapt to new situations… and watch your business grow.

What have you learned from watching the Walking Dead? Tell us in the comments, below!

– Emmanuel Ajala

Invoicing for Freelancers: How to Send, Receive and Manage Your Invoices

As a freelancer, you have to stay caught up with important things outside of marketing your talent. For example, freelancers have to adeptly manage projects, meet deadlines and communicate seamlessly across virtual teams. But of all these obligations, the highest priority must always be to maintain a positive cash flow.

Invoicing for Freelancers

It’s this cash flow that gets you through tough economic cycles. You’re already worried about income fluctuations from month to month. A lack of payments can mean the difference between paying your bills and not covering them on time. Not being paid can also impact how you save money for investments, taxes and retirement.

While you must work on marketing on a daily basis for steady work flow as a freelancer, you must also perfect your invoicing system to increase and speed cash flow. Not sure where to start? Here’s how to invoice like a pro.

Invoicing for Freelancers

Following this invoicing guide for freelancers will speed payment and potentially attract new clients.

Here are actionable tips on how to send, receive, and manage your freelance invoice process:

Sending Invoices

Invoicing systems that involve a word processing program, printer, envelope and a stamp are archaic. Using one could delay payment for days, weeks or even longer. It is also an inefficient use of your time and money. There is also a greater risk that mistakes will be made or the invoice will be lost in the shuffle.

Invoicing for Freelancers

Instead, get an online invoicing system for freelance invoices. There are multiple online invoicing tools and platforms available that deliver efficiency, branding opportunities, and convenience for your clients.

Once you’ve chosen an invoicing system, follow these best practices:

  • Use the database to store client information so that each invoice automatically populates for this information.
  • Create a formatted invoice using one of the available invoice templates. Make sure that it matches your brand, including colors, and provides a way to upload your logo for a more professional look.
  • Number every invoice. This is a good way for both you and your clients to track invoices that are paid and outstanding.
  • Determine if you need to change the currency, taxation, and language on the invoices to accommodate any international clients. Keep in mind to check on the self employment tax rates for each State our Country
  • Detail all of the services you performed. The more information you can provide, such as date, time, and project work, the easier it is for the client to agree with the invoice amount rather than just putting a total on the bottom.
  • Describe your payment acceptance methods and terms of payment, including due date and any types of fees or discounts associated with payment timing.
  • Always include a note of appreciation for the work and relationship. Be sure to change these up each month to provide that personal touch. Clients want to know that you value them.

Receiving Invoices

How your clients receive the invoice is also critical to fast payment. You are migrating to an online system of invoicing. Now, you can offer your clients a few ways to receive their invoices based on their preferences. You may also need to explain how online invoicing works and why it will benefit them.

Invoicing for Freelancers

Sending your invoice within an email is one of the most popular methods. This method includes a button within the email correspondence that the client can click to review and pay the invoice.

You can get paid immediately with this invoice receipt method because it is something your client can do in a matter of minutes. Also, consider accommodating their preference to receive invoices via text message or through a link that is sent through an instant messenger.

Be sure to ask each of your clients how they prefer to receive your invoice. Then, keep track of that so you can deliver it that way each month. Write this preference tracking information down. When you have a large client list it can become confusing (seriously, some clients request unusual invoicing practices).

If your clients receive regular invoices for the same amount because you are on a retainer, then use the recurring invoice function. It saves additional time and “trains” your clients to expect their invoice on the same day each month.

Managing Invoices

Illustration for cover of executive marketing book

While you wish you could just automate the entire process of invoicing for your freelance business, the reality is that you still have to manage the process. This is where your online invoicing system can also help. Here are some management tips to remember to stay on top of your invoices:

  • Update any changes to client information. This includes adding any new people that are to be included on the invoice. Staying current on this information will ensure that your invoice gets to the right people so that payment is not delayed.
  • Set up automatic reminders for outstanding invoices to encourage payment if a certain amount of days have passed.
  • Develop an automated thank you email when a client makes a payment. If you prefer, you may want to send your acknowledgment via email or any instant messaging system you use like Slack.
  • Establish a system for short-term or long-term projects. With this system, also add an accompanying agreement form for your client.
  • Use the numbering system to help a client find their invoice or to call up so you can answer a question or concern they have about it.
  • Track your cash flow by using available reporting capabilities to see how much you have received, what is still outstanding, and your overall revenue totals by month, quarter, and year. It’s important to follow these amounts because you can compare your productivity against your need or availability for more work.
  • Weigh your options of integrating more payment acceptance methods into your invoicing system. The more payment options you offer, the greater your chances of attracting more clients. Not every client wants to pay the same way, so be sure to include a payment processing partner that works with your online invoicing system.Find a partner that can offer debit and credit cards, ACH/e-checks, and payments via email like found with the peer-to-peer payment tools. Maybe you are even willing to accept cryptocurrency if your clients seem to like that alternative payment method.

Work and Cash Flow

Be sure to include your invoicing and payment methods in your marketing approaches. You can use this updated process as leverage to differentiate yourself from other freelancers. As a freelancer, you may also want to mention that you can teach your new client about how to use this payment system.

If your new client is still using the old-fashioned billing and payment systems, you can accommodate them with these time saving hacks. But, try to switch them to the other system as quickly as possible for both of your benefit. Progressive clients may pick you over other freelancers to fit their updated invoicing and payments system.

Your payment partners and these changes are either free or low-cost. Plus, their easy-to-implement processes have you up and running in minutes with a whole new way to work, invoice, and receive payment.

Need someone to help you get started? Carbon-less, custom, color NCR Forms are what the industry is now using for invoicing, click below!

NCR Forms

– John Rampton