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Would Your Business Make it on A&E?

I am hopelessly addicted to watching A&E reality shows, particularly those that follow family businesses. It started years ago with Dog the Bounty Hunter, and my love has only grown with each new show in the genre. Storage Wars is a particular favorite, and I am really into Duck Dynasty these days. There is just something about watching a bunch of scraggly bearded millionaires put rims on ATVs that keeps my attention for hours. Billy the Exterminator marathons got me through a hospital stay (and nearly made me bust my stitches as Billy launched his brother into a wasp nest). I’m not ashamed to admit it, I just love this stuff. And judging by the popularity of the new season of Storage Wars, I’m not the only one watching attentively.

Why are these shows so fascinating? We all like to take a look at how other people do things. It’s interesting to see businesses that operate outside of the corporate 9-5. Small businesses, especially unique ones full of family drama, are really captivating to pick apart. And I know at least for me, it’s really fun imagining every step I’d take if I were in their shoes.

Perhaps the biggest appeal for me is the revelation that these businesses even exist at all. Before Storage Wars, I had no idea that you could make thousands of dollars selling junk that people leave behind in storage units. I’d never given duck calls a moment’s notice before seeing how one legendary design launched Duck Dynasty. It is totally silly, but when watching these shows, my mind practically explodes thinking about all of the strange ways that people make money, and seem to have a lot of fun along the way.

Watching A&E’s shows has turned me on to a new fascination beyond TV. My husband and I like to play a little game called, Would They Make it on A&E? As we interact with local businesses, especially family ones, it’s fun to think about whether or not what they do is good enough to become a reality show. We play it at the car repair shop, a favorite local brewery, and even restaurants with a lively kitchen and waitstaff. It’s a fun exercise, and really, being interesting and successful enough to make it on TV isn’t a bad marker to judge a business by. Most of the A&E businesses are doing well (due to the show or otherwise), and there are enough rewarding and feel-good moments to show that these are ventures that make the proprietors happy, if not stinking rich. They’re sustainable and can be passed down generations, and perhaps most importantly, they have a great team and cast of characters that keep things interesting and lively in day to day work. I think any business owner would be proud to live up to those standards.

How would we do in this game? Pretty well, I think. As wedding photographers, there’s a natural element of drama and craziness, and beautiful images are built in as part of the visual package. There’s plenty of struggle as we constantly work to mix things up and stand out in a sea of photographers. Plus, as a husband and wife team, we get to work closely together, and our clients are an interesting and attractive cast of characters. All that’s left is a little time for our son to grow up and become old enough to help us out, and at that point, I’ll just be waiting on A&E’s call.

How would you do on A&E? Is your business happy and successful enough to be interesting to others? Do you offer a fascinating and unique way to do business? If not, why not?

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