With the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s a fitting time to think about what entrepreneurs can learn from the movie business.
Here are five tips to help small business create their own version of a blockbuster.
Creating a business plan, or script, for your company is the first step in any new venture.
However, once your business is up and running, you’ve got to keep reworking that script. As circumstances change, so, too, should your business plan. Don’t get locked into an idea because you thought it was a great idea on paper a year ago. You know more now.
Maybe that product line is not as profitable. Perhaps that supplier isn’t meeting your needs. Or, maybe you got the location wrong. Whatever it is, recognize it, and rewrite the script.
As well, own it: Be ready to tell it with enthusiasm, to anyone, at any time, like one of the great lines from your favourite movie.
If you can’t communicate your brand to your target customers with excitement, how can you expect them to be enthusiastic about your business? Think about what your product or service does to meet the needs of your customers. Be able to tell it in short, well-articulated sound bites: Develop three key lines that describe what your business does and what makes it stand out; keep it short and concise so you can tell it in 20 seconds or less.
Also, create simple and engaging ways to present what you have to offer. Think of them as movie trailers that tease your audience and make them want more.
You don’t have to have Steven Spielberg-sized budgets to be successful. However, you do have to be extra mindful of expenses and diligent about where you invest your capital. Look at your major overhead costs, fixed monthly costs and try to keep these as low as possible. Take a close look at large expenses, like office space. More than ever, audiences are rewarding small-budget films with big attendance. Aim to be that well-managed-budget indie darling of your industry.
Special effects, makeup, costume, and cinematography are all part of a successful film. Smart directors outsource to the right specialists. You can’t do everything yourself so make sure you bring in the experts where needed. They give you more time to focus on your own special effects.
Great film projects come together as a result of a number of variables, not the least of which are the people — producers, directors and actors — met along the way. Whether it’s with mentors, suppliers or customers, you need to step out onto the red carpet and network, too. Passion is what drives those in the film business, and those who start their own business. So get out there, and perform.
This article was originally published in The Globe and Mail on September 9, 2011.