What A Movie Taught Me About Being A Business Owner

I decided to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory through the eyes of the owner of the business — Willy Wonka. I learned some interesting lessons that gave me ideas on how to think a little differently in my own business.


1. Create curiosity.

Willy Wonka created suspense, mystery, and curiosity. It was very exciting — his doors have been shut for three years, and then he has this great contest. The people who win will get to spend a day in his factory and have a lifetime supply of chocolate. It created a huge buzz, and people were excited.


Who are you? What are you doing? How can people learn more and be involved?

2. Limited availability.

Of all the chocolate bars in the world, there are only five golden tickets. On top of excitement, only a select few will win. FOMO at its most aggressive.


FOMO is a real thing. Limit the number of people you can work with - for your own sanity and keep what you offer special.

3. Speak to a niche.

He's speaking to a specific demographic - to children. The adults are only there to help the kids obtain the golden ticket.


Speak to the people you want to attract. Solve their problem.

4. Use great build-up and a countdown.

The contest creates drama, people stealing from each other, side bets, incredible sales of chocolate. The contest created scams as well, so anytime that a contest has a lot of momentum, it's interesting to see the side hustle that's going on in the background that maybe we wouldn't have noticed otherwise. This adds to the build-up.


Add excitement to what you’re offering. Perception is projection.

5. Weed out who isn’t right for you.

In this example, Willy Wonka was looking for a replacement for himself to run his business. What better place to look for someone who can be raw and authentic and open to his vision than a child. These five children walk in with their guardians, and he does what we don't tend to do as business owners - he allows them to weed themselves out.


We aren’t the right fit for everyone, so accept the people that are a great fit. It will increase your overall success.


I know I've been guilty of getting a client or hiring someone while trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. We're not the right fit for each other. That's not a bad reflection on myself or the business owner, and it's not a bad reflection on the client. It just means that we're not really there to fit and serve each other the best possible way, instead of letting that go. We just keep trying to get the square peg in the round hole because we're going to make it work, we're going to make a difference, and we're going to make an income. Sometimes, it’s just not the right fit.


Willy Wonka was raw, genuine, and said, "here's my vision, and this is who I am and what my company is," and he just allowed them to weed themselves out so he could find the right fit. Somehow we feel hurt by the process that maybe we're just not right for someone or vice versa.


What we do shouldn’t be about ego.

The Four Personalities

Four exaggerated personalities that we all represent to some degree, whether from the business owner or client perspective, are represented in the movie.

  • First represented is the glutton — all about what he wanted at the expense of others —the person who does not listen.

  • Second is the Spoiled Brat — all about herself and what made her look and feel better. And she wanted instant gratification right now.

  • The third is the one that's greedy and overeager and wants the spotlight.

  • Fourth. In the end, the last man standing was personality four — the little boy who asks what's going to happen to all of the other kids. He's genuinely concerned about these people, these kids who gave themselves the boot.

Not everyone is ready for a change.

When the final winner asks what will happen to the other kids, Willy Wonka tells him — "don't worry, they will remain their normal, terrible selves, and nothing will change." True and tragic when they had this amazing opportunity in front of them to become better than who they were, and they didn't even know it. They got in their own way.

Spread positivity.

The quote I love that Willy Wonka says at the end is: so shines a good deed in a weary world. It's easy to be negative when launching or running a business. On the flip side, if we are looking for the "light that shines in a weary world," our businesses can grow.


On my own Hero's Journey, sometimes I am the guide, and I am also sometimes the hero. We need to play all of those roles equally with enthusiasm.

Things I’ve learned over the past 4 years:

  • Embrace your zone of genius and spend as much time there as possible

  • Find people whose zone of genius is where you lack skills. Trade, support, hire, etc., to get the help you need.

  • Realize that business is a process. It’s fluid and not linear. Where you end up might not have been on your radar at all. Add the word “pivot” to your vocabulary.

  • There is no failure, only feedback.

  • Many people will be supportive — stick with those who build you up.

  • "Success" isn’t only about money.

What lessons have you learned along the way that would make someone else’s journey faster, easier, and more supported?

 

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