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Bikini Bottom Secrets: 3 Business Qualities You Can Pirate From Sheldon J. Plankton

Sheldon J. Plankton, also known as the villainous Plankton from the TV show SpongeBob SquarePants, was introduced to the world 20 years ago as one of the show’s main antagonists, with high intelligence and a Napoleon complex. Plankton runs a business called the Chum Bucket, which rivals the Krusty Krab, run by Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob. Plankton’s one and only goal in life is to steal the secret Krabby Patty formula in an effort to become the most successful restaurant owner in Bikini Bottom. It’s easy to underestimate Plankton as a business failure, but Plankton exhibits many qualities of a passionate, tech-savvy, and strategic entrepreneur. The admirable qualities Plankton does possess can serve as a lesson to any business—as long as the business takes care to avoid his major missteps.

1.) Unshakable Passion

It’s been said that passion is an elusive emotion that changes over time. This seems especially true if a person was to, say, fail at every single attempt they have ever made to achieve their passion. Despite this being 100% true for Plankton in his quest for the secret Krabby Patty formula, his passion remains unwavering. He may occasionally get his confidence shaken, but after some time and a pep talk from his supercomputer partner Karen, he is right back at it again, more determined and fearless than ever. Plankton lives and breathes for that elusive Krabby Patty formula.

While I’m not encouraging a single-minded obsession for your business, we have to take his passion for improving his Chum Bucket business into consideration: does Plankton ever feel like he has worked a day in his life? After all, Confucius did say “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Every episode, his passion to achieve his dream is fueled by motivation that truly inspires.

Where Plankton goes wrong:

In Plankton’s case, his passion is combined with greed. This greed causes him to be short-sighted and act reckless when carrying out his plans, and inevitably ends with his downfall. The tipping point between destructive greed and a healthy desire to accumulate money or value must be kept in check to maintain business success. While Plankton’s ambitious nature turning into ineffective greed increasingly over 12 seasons is our schadenfreude, it’s easy to see where he went wrong, and a friendly reminder to avoid a greed-laden pursuit of wealth.

2.) Use of Technology

Since his early years in grade school, Plankton has shown an interest in technology, especially in the fields of robotics and inventions. He decided early on to utilize technology in his life to help him achieve his dream, starting with his self-made waterproof supercomputer (and W.I.F.E. – Wired Integrated Female Electroencephalograph) named Karen, who is a reoccurring character who runs algorithms to determine the best plan to execute in order to get the Krabby Patty formula. This supercomputer is one of the neverending works of technology that Plankton creates and implements to carry out his goal; Plankton also creates a robotic version of himself and Mr. Krabs, creates a machine to clone SpongeBob, and creates mind-control helmets for the Bikini Bottom citizens.

Whatever field your business is in, technology can almost certainly help your customers and clients, support and grow your business, or allow your staff to better perform their jobs. The proper technology in your workplace can help increase productivity, flexibility, and will keep your business safe. Keeping up to date with technology is essential for every business owner in order to stay competitive and relevant in today’s business world.

Where Plankton goes wrong:

For our tiny antagonist, he either misuses or overly depends on technology, which ends up being the detriment of virtually any attempt at success. He is proud of the convoluted technology he creates, which gives him the ego gratification he desires, and may also inoculate him against feelings of inadequacy. While the proper technology is essential in the workplace, it isn’t a replacement for time, talent or attention—it’s about designing the technologies that can facilitate your business to success and encourage a productive and safe work environment. For example, there’s no sense in spending thousands on a new payroll system if you don’t have the time or resources to train administrators and employees how to use it.

3.) Goal Setting and Goal Orientation

No one plans more thoroughly and with more strategy than Sheldon J. Plankton. His plans are well thought-out, organized, and extravagant. He has copious piles of blueprints in his secret laboratory, including a blueprint for a superhighway that goes right over the Krusty Krab and a blueprint for constructing a second eye for himself. After he calculates and coordinates his plans, his goal-oriented mindset goes in for the execution every single time. He may never be successful, but he always gives it a valiant effort.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like no matter how hard you try, you keep hitting road blocks that always hold you back. Success can depend on how far you’re willing to go to get what you want, and to realize that making mistakes is just all part of the battle to your ultimate goal. If goals were easy to reach, there would be no rewarding feeling. Be like Plankton, and be willing to pull out all the stops—even when you think you’ve done all you can in your business, keep trying.

Where Plankton goes wrong:

Your business goals need to be the right goals, and this is where Plankton misses the mark. Plankton’s narcissism and aggressive vying for his businesses success does considerable damage to his overall goals. Instead of focusing on useful, tangible goals like business improvements, he get caught up in competition. Plankton spends too much time focusing on eliminating his competition even when it is unnecessary.

This is a problem all businesses can easily fall into. Sometimes it becomes about taking out the other guy, whether that means outranking your competitors in Google search results or getting a bigger, fancier billboard. While it’s definitely a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors and their moves, it’s important to remember that the overall goal isn’t actually crushing the competition in every way imaginable. It’s about optimizing business success. A healthy business focus that celebrates innovation and productivity–rather than just beating the competition–is more likely to succeed.

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While Plankton isn’t the success story we strive for, he has a few inspirational qualities a business owner should heed. Whether you’ve felt a lack of passion lately, your business has fallen behind in the technology arena, or you sense a need for stronger overall goals for your team, you have a tiny cultural icon you can look to for inspiration.

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