Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed the dramatic and, let’s be honest, entertaining current-day episode of The Crown. You know, the one in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a.k.a. Harry and Meghan, announce that they’re leaving the family business of being royal and want to strike off on their own.
Underneath all of the media kerfuffle about royalty, Harry and Meghan are basically like a son and daughter-in-law who are leaving the family business and setting up on their own. Members of the royal family even call themselves “the firm,” because they all understand that it’s a family business.
Though it may feel like a guilty pleasure to watch the Royal Family facing the same kind of family row that you might have experienced over Christmas and New Year’s, there are actually valuable business lessons you can learn from it.
1. Never Be Afraid to Try Something New
For Harry, this must be a really scary move. He’s going to break away from the only life he’s ever known, and he’s probably going to spend most of his time in a totally new culture in Canada.
He and Meghan also announced that they want to become financially independent. Okay, they aren’t on the poverty line but he’s never had to think about where his money might come from.
Knowing that you have to rely on your own abilities to earn a living, for the first time ever, has got to be worrying.
Harry’s also never been the one in charge. He’s never had to make any of the decisions about what he’s going to do today or where he’s going to appear next (a.k.a. serious business decisions). He’s about to be pitchforked into Entrepreneurs 101.
But here’s the thing: Harry and Meghan are doing it anyway. They aren’t exactly sure how their plans will work out, but they know that they want a change, and they’re going to make that leap. That’s your takeaway. You can’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from trying out something new.
If you have an awesome idea for a totally new style of dancercise, go for it. If you feel ready to strike out on your own by opening up your own therapy practice, do it. Seize the moment.
2. Be Confident of your Brand
This goes along with point number 1. Harry and Meghan are confident that they can be leaders, supporters of important causes, and money-makers on their own. Their “personal brand” can be huge, mainly because they themselves believe in it.
Write this lesson down in your executive notebook. It’s very nice to be modest and humble, but if you’re going to succeed in business (and that’s essentially what the Sussexes are hoping to do), you need to be confident about your capabilities.
3. Act First, Then Talk
When Harry and Meghan made their surprise announcement that they would be stepping back from their royal duties and planning to become financially independent, they weren’t indulging in wishful thinking. They had already trademarked the term “Sussex Royal” so that they can make money on branded products. They clearly spent time looking into the possibilities for making money with their assets (i.e. being royal) before they went public about it.
Your lesson is to act first, and then talk about it, even though far fewer people listen to your announcements than to those made by Harry and Meghan. It’s important to plan as much as possible, do your research, open up your bank accounts, register any patents or business names, and take out any licenses that you need before you make some noise about them.
For one thing, it makes your business look reliable and you look trustworthy. For another, it stops anyone else from moving in on your ideas before you have the chance. Although it’s important to be bold and confident about what you can do, you also need some hard figures and a solid business plan to prove your dreams.
4. Never Wrong-Foot your Team
Some of the lessons you can learn from Harry and Meghan come from their mistakes. One of them is to never do anything to wrong-foot your own team.
Although the royal family knew that Harry and Meghan wanted some changes, they weren’t expecting them to make an announcement about it so suddenly. It left the Queen looking totally taken aback, and Prince Charles and Prince William (Harry’s father and brother, for anyone who’s having trouble telling the princes apart) are said to have been furious.
Surprising their own team like that didn’t help Harry and Meghan. Prince Charles immediately said that they shouldn’t expect him to carry on giving them financial support, although he’s calmed down a little now.
If you’re about to set up a new business, or make big changes in your current one, it’s important to do all you can to keep on good terms with everyone concerned. That means making sure not to antagonize your former boss (in Harry and Meghan’s case, that would be the Queen); your investors (Prince Charles); or your previous colleagues (Prince William).
Your team is your backbone, even if you’re about to leave them behind you. After all, you never know what you might end up needing from them again, one day in the future.
5. Have Someone Who Can Tell You the Honest Truth
Anonymous sources from the royal palacessay that Harry and Meghan’s bid for independence could have been managed better if the royal family had listened to impartial advice.
Senior royals said that there was no one in Buckingham Palace who could tell Prince Charles or Prince William the uncomfortable truths about Harry and Meghan’s needs. Without someone who could talk to the main people concerned honestly and openly, and get them to accept what was really going on, the family business turned into a real mess.
Learn a lesson for your business, and make sure that there’s always someone around who can talk to you honestly. You might be the CEO, business owner, and decision-maker around here, but you still need someone who can tell you bluntly when you’ve made a mistake. If you become too important to ever listen to criticism, you might end up with someone as valuable as Harry and Meghan running away from your company.
Your business might not have the royal touch, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn useful lessons from Harry and Meghan’s independence wish. Now you can keep on watching the royal news without feeling any guilt at all.