Last updated Mar 18, 2024 and written by David Goulden

Business lessons to learn from House of Cards; Frank Underwood

Here at MadeSimple we are big fans of the the Netflix sensation House of Cards – which has just seen its fourth season released. It’s a fantastic show full of political intrigue, deception and scheming – starring Kevin Spacey as the ruthless politician Frank Underwood.

Frank is the ultimate strategist and a master of psychology, which he uses to aid his enormous ambitions. As amoral as Frank is, we think that your business can learn some important lessons from this political schemer. Let’s take a look.

Lesson one – “Do not start a war you know you’re gonna lose”

Are your business goals possible? You should not make unrealistic forecasts, such as your company becoming a global giant within 6 months, as this is unlikely to happen. Instead, create small achievable goals that can be met within a specific time frame, such as get a certain amount of funding or create a new product. Whatever it is, make it feasible.

Lesson two – “We are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal”

This is a great lesson that should be applied to your content marketing strategy. You need to think very carefully about the type of messages you send out to your audience – after all, you are what you share. Is it consistent with your brand? Is it relevant to your business? Will your audience be interested? And remember, if someone else is running your marketing activity, make sure they’re clear on your strategy.

Lesson three – “Let me be clear, you are entitled to nothing”

When starting a business do not assume that your company is going to grow just like that. It’s unlikely that success will come to you instantly. You must be willing to do everything it takes to make your venture great. No matter how good you think your idea is – you need to put the work in.

Lesson four – “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things”

In the life of a business – particularly one that is a startup – you are bound to go through some challenging moments. By handling these tough moments and navigating through them you will be all the stronger for it. However, it is important to recognise when something might not be working. For example, an employee (if you have any) might not be pulling their weight or your company website might not be particularly user friendly. It’s important to identify problems and things which serve no benefit to the growth of your business. Once you know the problems, be like Frank and quickly take them out the equation (in a legal way!).

Lesson five –  “There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth”

There’s nothing wrong with getting things wrong from time to time as mistakes can and do happen. If you experience a problem providing a service to a customer, be honest, explain what has happened and tell them how you’re going to fix it. People understand that in business not everything works like clockwork – if you are transparent about problems, customers will be surprisingly understanding.

Lesson six – “Pay attention to the fine print, it’s far more important than the selling price”

It is imperative that you look into the finer details in everything that you do as a small business owner. Don’t get involved in anything without reading the terms and conditions very closely. Be thorough!

We hope that you enjoyed this post and that in some way, Frank Underwood can help your business! If you would like to read more blogs like this, take a look at our dedicated small business blog here.