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Top 5 fictional businesspeople (and what you can learn from them!)

Bruce Wayne - Batman

If you are thinking of purchasing a business, but have little time to run it - take a leaf out of a Batman comic and get yourself a good manager.   

Having witnessed the murder of his mother as a child, the young Bruce Wayne swore revenge on all criminals and began to foster his legendary sense of justice and protectiveness over his Gotham City community. Thus was born the secret life of Batman. 

However, the young Wayne also grew into a philanthropic industrialist and businessman, as owner of the non-profit Wayne Foundation and highly successful Wayne Enterprises. 

One might wonder how the caped crusader juggled all his responsibilities. Well, the straight answer is that he didn’t. Forever sliding down the pole into the bat-cave with his protégé, Dick Grayson - aka Robin, Wayne had scarce time to attend to the day-today running of his company. 

Showing true business acumen, Wayne employs the wise and industrious Lucius Fox as his business manager, leaving him in charge of the engineering projects that supplied his equipment needs (the Batwing prototype being one of his most successful) and responsible for balancing the finances in all the operations of Wayne Enterprises. 

Also managing the particulars of the Wayne Foundation, while Bruce dictated the general policies, Lucius Fox became an invaluable asset to Bruce Wayne’s business life. 

Never underestimate the importance of finding a manager you can trust completely.

Scroodge McDuck - DuckTales 

No man is an island, and let’s face it - no business is either. When investing in a new business, being mindful of your local community and neighbouring businesses is vital, as is establishing mutually beneficial links. 

A human connection, through clever marketing and keeping a keen eye on consumer preferences is worth fostering to ensure loyalty. 

Ensuring you get along with fellow commercial enterprises is often a route to potential shared resources, and of course, establishing yourself in the social media scene is a must. 

If only Scroodge McDuck had heeded this advice. Waddling onto the Disney scene in 1947, this crotchety and miserly Scottish anti-hero was inspired by Dickens’ Ebenezer – and like his name-sake, initially made his money through mean-spiritedness and bullying.

Uncle to Donald, and great-uncle to Huey, Dewey and Louie, Scroodge’s early appearances saw him as a ruthless and solitary entrepreneur, travelling the world and accruing more treasure for his infamous ‘money bin’ (which he was often pictured diving into, then spewing a fountain of gold coins out of his beak). 

As time passes, though, his character softens and he begins to recognise in his nephews the same intrepid spirit as his own. 

Eventually adopting the three young ducks, Scroodge, though still a staunch capitalist, becomes a more successful, philanthropic character with a family to share his business sense with... and finally a legacy that will last. 

Tess McGill - Working Girl 

Striding onto our screens 25 years ago, in white sneakers, a business suit and an industrially high 80’s hair-do, Tess McGill was a (breathy) breath of fresh air in a still overtly sexist business-world.

Though the notion that a woman can achieve as much as any man in the work-place is a given now, Melanie Griffith’s Tess - the original ‘Working Girl’ - had some insights and characteristics that any potential business owner today should pay heed to. 

Two of Tess’s finest qualities are her attention to detail and her direct, honest approach. When procuring a business, never underestimate the value of prior research and complete transparency in your subsequent negotiations. 

Starting out as a humble secretary to her two-faced boss Katherine (played by Sigourney Weaver), Tess had ambitions for more. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the business markets, often getting her brain-waves from the New York Post - ‘I read a lot of things. You never know where the big ideas could come from’. 

Tess’s big idea is that one of her company’s clients, Trask Industries, should invest in radio to gain a foothold in the media. Her boss, Katherine, listens to her and says she will pass it on. 

However, she comes back to say the idea wasn’t well received, fully intending to claim it as her own. 

In the ensuing scramble for her big break, Tess manages to impress executive Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) with her famous ‘head for business and.. bod for sin’ and together the pair manage to bypass the Machiavellian Katherine and convince Trask himself that the idea was Tess’s alone. 

Trask is so impressed with Tess’s approach, he immediately promotes her, fires Katherine and Tess finds herself in her own office, overlooking Manhattan, with her ‘dream job’.

Derek Trotter (‘Del Boy’) - Only Fools and Horses 

He’s everybody’s favourite wheeler-dealer: Del Boy Trotter - undisputed king of the ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme and head of the family ‘firm’, Trotters Independent Traders. 

Mostly selling on stock acquired in decidedly opaque circumstances, Del Boy operates either out of his suitcase or from the back of his yellow Reliant Royal super-van alongside his gormless brother and business partner, Rodney. 

Purportedly able to ‘smell a fiver in a force 9 gale’, Del Boy’s favourite mantra is ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires!’ This is likely the phrase echoing through the farthest flung reveries of any new business owner, but be warned: despite his many minor triumphs, Del Boy’s ultimate demise came down to one thing - a complete irreverence to the law. 

Though it may be tempting to slip past a legal requirement or two when buying a new business, your actions will probably come back to haunt you and the financial impact can be serious.

Registering your business correctly, acquiring a license and signing up for National Insurance contributions (on behalf of your staff as well as for yourself) as well as registering for VAT are all essential legal requirements. 

A lifetime of tax-avoidance finally caught up with Del Boy in the feature length episode ‘If they could see us now’, when the Trotters’ business is liquidated. He receives a two year suspended sentence, with a huge tax bill to pay within 12 months to avoid prison. 

Irrepressible to the last, Dell has a last minute reprieve in the form of an inheritance from his recently deceased uncle. This is TV though…and the flinging of Derek Trotter behind bars would have been bad for ratings. It’s worth noting that no real-life business-person has ever been saved by scriptwriters…and not everyone has an Uncle Albert.

Alexis Colby - Dynasty 

No one born within a whiff of the hair-lacquered, power-laden scent of the 1980s can forget the thunderous business-style of Alexis Colby of ColbyCo.Oil. 

Though it was always a little unclear what went on in between the dramatic entrances and exits of this Denver diva - her office was always a highly charged environment, peppered with intermittent glowerings, pouty cigarette exhalations and the rare but celebrated cat-fights with Krystal. 

Acquiring the business after the death of her second husband Cecil Colby, Alexis gave the impression of a completely put-together business-woman but critics have focused on her ‘Achilles heel’ and any aspiring business owner should take note. 

Alexis Colby’s primary drive in life was to bring down her first husband, Blake Carrington and that thought coloured her every decision. 

When thinking about buying a commercial venture, you need to ask yourself if your personal life can accommodate the level of time and commitment needed to foster a business. 

All too often, an inability to leave domestic issues at home can affect focus and decision making in the workplace as well as creating strained relations with staff. 

Talking to people who run similar businesses, before you invest, can give you an invaluable perspective into the way your life will change and the opportunity to reflect on whether you will manage. 

It seems fair to say that if Alexis spent more time creating positive connections in the oil industry rather than dreaming of elaborate ways to destroy Blake’s Denver-Carrington empire, she may well have positioned ColbyCo. as the true fore-runner in the field, instead of remaining in a state of perpetual loggerheads.


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