The holidays are upon us and while we have to maintain our online business presence during the festivities, it’s OK to take breaks. Specifically, who can resist (whether we have children or not) watching fun holiday movies? In fact, many of their themes can actually be applied by us, giving us insights and success lessons about running our online business more effectively.
In other words, Rudolph with your nose so bright, what entrepreneurial tips do you have for me tonight? Silly as this may sound, there’s truth in this. Read this lighthearted, yet informative article to discover what movies like Elf and The Polar Express can teach you about success.
5 Holiday Movies with Business-Boosting Lessons
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Time and again, online entrepreneurs have been told about two common keys to success. One is finding a niche that you are passionate about.
Remember the elf in this movie? He worked on an assembly line of toys, only to grow increasingly frustrated because he’d rather be engaged in his real passion: dentistry. Yet there he sat, working on dolls while always peering down at his book of dental terms. His heart simply wasn’t in it and it showed in productivity, angering those around him who thought his ideas were absurd. But his stick-to-itiveness came through and it all worked out in the end.
In his new book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid (Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2013), Richie Norton, founder and CEO of Global Consulting Circle, talks about entrepreneurs who face negativity, being told their ideas are stupid or silly. He explains, “We are scared of failure. Scared of being foolish. Scared of looking stupid. It’s a wonder why anyone would turn to entrepreneurship . . . once you get passed the naysayers and you begin to look at the world through what I like to call the stupid filter, you’ll see successful, dumb ideas everywhere you look.”
Need proof? Norton brings to our attention Doggles (even the name sounds “silly”), fashionable sunglasses for dogs, which makes about $3 million yearly. Over one million Chia Pets are sold during the holidays alone. Then there’s Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx who became a self-made billionaire despite the fact that many initially dismissed her body-flattering footless hosiery as a bit of a stupid idea.
Not doing what you love can result in business struggles (it’s simply easier to work when you’re doing what makes you happy). Plus, being even the slightest bit unhappy in your online business choice will show. Your audience can sense this through the care you take (or don’t) in the appearance of your web site (everything from design to updating product information) to the tone of your voice.
The second piece of advice aspiring entrepreneurs often hears is to ask, “What differentiates me from my competition?” In other words, finding that one thing within your niche that makes you stand out from everyone else can drive more sales than if you just followed in others’ semi-mediocre footsteps.
Just like the red-nosed reindeer, dare to be different, embrace the things that make your business model unique regardless of what others say. Unless you’re doing something so off-base that it’s no longer related to your niche, go for it! Forge on and lead the way.
Like the young boy in this movie, it’s easy to be a doubting Thomas when everything around you seems suddenly go against what you’ve always believed. We’ve all been there when it comes to our business, frustrated by a series of bad days, website snafus or unmotivated moments. We feel broken, discouraged and then the worst notion of all hits us. We actually start to question if being an online entrepreneur is the real deal. Shame on us!
Of course it is, and when we surround ourselves with a network of helpful, good-spirited people in our community, just like those in this movie did, all the feel-good thoughts that made us discover our online niche and build a web-based business in the first place come flooding back. It’s important to keep networking, maintain a sense of community, and stay motivated by attending seminars or even watching inspirational TED talks online.
There’s a lot to be said about how a successful web business is related to surrounding yourself with like-minded, positive believers.
Will Ferrell’s unbreakable spirit as an elf searching for his real father during the holiday season can teach us a couple of things, and no, the idea that men should avoid wearing yellow tights in New York City (or anywhere) is not one of them. Well, at least for the purpose of this article.
His unstoppable drive and dogged persistence is a critical takeaway for online entrepreneurs. Rather than falling in a rut and living a ho-hum life, he focuses on his goals with gusto. His energy is contagious and even though he faces setbacks and embarrassments, he ultimately prevails. In fact, setbacks can help you grow.
“In Britain, people who try things and then fail are actually well-respected,” says entrepreneur extraordinaire Richard Branson. “People like the underdog. If you go back to my adventure times, generally speaking, we failed on most of my adventures the first time.” Branson goes on to say how he continually picked himself up, not allowing anything to get in the way. He adds that such persistence, “. . . where we tried and failed . . . put Virgin on the map, gave it a sexier image than our bigger rivals, and turned us into an adventurous company and brand.”
It’s a personality trait all successful entrepreneurs have. Just as in the case of this movie, don’t be afraid to face setbacks, ask questions, let your personality shine (albeit with more professionalism than Elf, but you get the point), bypass the naysayers (listen to what they have to say, but trust yourself enough to move on if their comments truly don’t seem right) and persist . . . constantly.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Ah, that poor, sorry-looking tree. Tiny as it was though, the Peanuts crew eventually learned that showy isn’t what it’s all about and that often, it’s the more subtle things in life that count. So what’s this have to do with you as an entrepreneur? Plenty.
This movie teaches that in most cases, less is more. From an over the top “me, me, me” attitude to cluttered website, flashy excess can drive your audience away. A web site that tries too hard to be the biggest and brightest can confuse visitors. How can a few key products stand out, or how can the overall experience be user friendly, when there are pop up and flashing surveys galore? Sometimes the little tree concept, figuratively speaking, is best.
Consider an article by Jeff Haden wrote for CBS’s Money Watch. “You added a blog because every business needs a blog, right? You added lots of images to make your design more dynamic. You expanded your About Us page without thinking about what potential customers want to know,” he says. “You added videos because videos are cool . . . You realized your home page gets more traffic than any other page so you started adding additional services, features, explanations, products… it’s hard to attract eyeballs, so when you do why waste them, right?”
Haden adds that it’s easy to lose sight of objectives when too much becomes too much. Suddenly business goals lose focus, which not only makes it difficult for you, but confuses your audience.
Furthermore, make sure correspondence with your audience is about your audience. Emails, calls and promotional messaging that make it clear that their needs, not yours, are the priority, is essential. Constant touting of how well your sales are doing to lure them into wanting to stay with such a proven business can sometimes have the opposite effect. Always sending messages that first remind them that you’re products are the best and then thanking them for a purchase may make them feel like an afterthought.
Big ideas and pride is a wonderful thing, but so too, is humility and being OK with a non-showy, “less is more” business approach.
When we find ourselves in difficult situations, just like when the actor Macaulay Culkin was accidentally left home alone for the holidays and faced house-stalking bad guys, sometimes creativity is all that’s needed. You may recall the series of well-planned distractions put in place by the young actor which made the theives’ lives miserable. This isn’t to say we need to engage in over the top silliness to reach our goals.
The movie simply reminds us that sometimes, we need to do whatever it takes to thrive, even if the circumstance is challenging or happens unexpectedly. Plus, it reinforces the importance of anticipating our audience’s next steps, the power of observation, patience and timing and of course, finding creative ways to achieve what’s best for our business.