6 Small Business Lessons ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Can Teach

Bob Belcher’s struggles in this animated sitcom probably have a lot in common with yours.
Find clever ways to stand out from the competition, like the Belcher family in "Bob's Burgers." (Photo: shannonpatrick17/Flickr)

Small business owners can find inspiration in countless places: business books and articles, networking events — even business movies and at least one an animated sitcom.

“Bob’s Burgers,” which follows the heartwarming adventures of the Belcher family and its burger diner — which is always on the brink of going out of business but never tumbles over — is surprisingly rich with storylines every small business owner can relate to. Passion, competition, success, failure and work/life balance are all themes that have been woven into the plot.

Below are a few of the takeaways from the more than 100 episodes broadcast over seven seasons. Just don’t blame us if you become as addicted to the series as the rest of the world.

Love what you do


(Photo: Bob’s Burgers)

Despite the long hours and less-than-glamorous workplace, Bob Belcher is passionate about his small business. This may seem like a simple tip, but it’s one of the most important underpinnings of successful entrepreneurship: You must love what you do.

Just like Bob, you should wake up every day eager to get to work, build your brand and grow your customer base. In Bob’s case, he’s passionate about everything from the ingredients he chooses to the hungry regulars who walk through the door. Your small business should not feel like work but an integral part of your life’s ambition.

Strive for a work/life balance

Like many other small businesses around the world, Bob’s Burgers is a family affair. The Belcher family does its best to separate work and life, but finding the dividing line can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to remember, especially when it comes to family, to make time for activities outside of the “office.”

This video, in which Linda sings “Date Night Tonight!,” shows how the Belchers have managed to keep the love in their marriage despite the difficulties of raising a family and running a small business.

By scheduling more family time, you’ll avoid feeling overworked and burned out — and you’ll keep your marriage alive.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up

One of the more hilarious moments in each episode comes when Bob reveals his burger of the day. The puns solicit a giggle from customers and also make the restaurant stand out from the other burger joints in town.

Some classics include the “Fifth Day of Christmas Burger” (which comes with five golden onion rings), “Eggers Can’t Be Cheesers” (with fried eggs and cheese), “The Silentil Night Burger” (comes with lentils), and “The Paranormal Pepper Jack-tivity Burger” (with pepper-jack cheese.)

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain when it comes to showing off your product or service. Brainstorm, bounce ideas off your employees and friends, and most important of all, experiment. You never know what crazy idea or promotion might just turn your shop into a hot word-of-mouth destination.

Learn from your mistakes

Mistakes come with the territory of running a small business. While building and growing your business you’ll encounter countless moments of trial and error, struggle and disappointment. The important thing is to see these moments not as failures but as lessons that will make you a wiser entrepreneur.

The Belcher family has gone through its fair share of business misfires — from a failed $3,000 Super Bowl ad to a murder mystery promotion gone wrong. Each time, however, the family learned from its mistakes and rebounded stronger. You, too, can bounce back.

It’s worth noting how the opening of each episode reinforces the idea of perseverance. While the Belcher family restaurant remains a constant, a neighboring building features a different business in each opening title sequence. Not only does this revolving door of failed businesses (RIP, “Annie Get Your Gum,” “Tire-Rhea,” and about a hundred more) comment on just how hard it is for most small business to survive, but it also gives a compliment to the way the Belcher’s keep their small enterprise humming along.

Build relationships with customers


(Photo: Bob’s Burgers)

As you might expect for someone who owns a diner, Bob Belcher is skilled at making time to chat with his customers. In the episode “Friends with Burger-fits,” he even goes out of his way to help one regular named Teddy lose weight by joining a stuntman training camp.

You don’t have to hang out with your customers socially, but communication and a friendly smile can go a long way toward fostering loyalty and encouraging word-of-mouth. Whether it’s through social media or by working the floor to greet customers and assist them with merchandise, take time throughout your day to build relationships.
Listening to your customers and providing stellar customer service will likely do more to grow your business than any marketing hack.

Take moments to step away and reset

As this video from an episode of “Bob’s Burgers” attests, every small business owner experiences days when the creative juices just won’t flow. Instead of feeling frustrated, take time to hit the reset button and step away from work.

Go for a run or walk or otherwise squeeze in some fitness, see a film, meditate or just pick up a good book and relax. Taking these breaks often helps to refresh the mind so it can come up with fresh solutions to vexing problems.

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