Epic Startups: How to Make your Business a Box-Office Hit

As it turns out, entrepreneurs can learn a few things from Hollywood filmmakers. Consequently, as you prepare for another blockbuster year in business with an all-star cast, “I’m...

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The Wizard of Oz

Have you ever given thought to what it takes to make a film a box-office hit? Or better yet, what it takes to bring your ‘business story’ to life?

Who doesn’t enjoy an epic movie – a sweeping romantic saga or an unforgettable adventure? Once a film is released, critics wait with bated breath and anxious moviegoers crowd the theaters, but it’s not often that we consider the rough cuts, big breaks and years of production behind the curtain. Was it Hollywood magic?

This can easily be compared to producing an epic company. As it turns out, entrepreneurs can learn a few things from Hollywood filmmakers. Consequently, as you prepare for another blockbuster year in business with an all-star cast, “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Checkout eight epic tips to turn your startup into a box-office hit.


1. Where’s your script?

We’re all privy to the ongoing debate surrounding the usefulness of a business plan. Whether your mastermind plan gets its debut on a napkin or on a full-fledged prospectus, you should have one.

How do you know where to go without an idea of where you want to be? Hollywood won’t take you seriously without a script and an investor won’t give you the time of day without a business plan. Would you build your dream house without a blueprint? You’re on shaky ground if you attempt to build a business without some form of planning. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


2. Sell yourself to the right people

An idea is only as “great” as your ability to market and execute it. Therefore, your next step is to get your idea in front of people that can contribute to its success. Writers shop studios, agents, etc. In contrast, you should start recruiting your dream team – people that can help you make your dream a reality. Determine the skill sets and resources needed to get your business operational.

In this process, it’s not wise to ‘shop your idea’ to your best friend, former colleagues or people that simply cannot ‘contribute’ to its success. Many newbie entrepreneurs go full-throttle in the wrong direction, by attempting to gain consensus from people unqualified to move the production process forward – only to become discouraged when their idea (script) is met with criticism. “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes (Eleanor Roosevelt).”


3. Become an award-winning Producer

In Hollywood filmmaking, generally the writer’s involvement comes to a halt at this juncture. Not so in entrepreneurship. At the onset of business development be prepared to wear multiple hats. One of the most important hats you’ll wear is that of a producer. In Tinsel Town a producer exercises control over the production of a motion picture. If it’s a boom or a bust – they are ultimately responsible … and so are you.

Some say a good producer should be, “a combination of shrewd businessman, tough taskmaster, prudent cost accountant, flexible diplomat, and creative visionary.” The same is true of entrepreneurship. Ultimately, as the producer of your company, it’s your responsibility to guide it to blockbuster success.


4. Learn how to direct or find a good Director

If you’re multi-talented, you can pull a Hitchcock and become a producer who can also direct (wear both hats), or you can recruit a co-founder (director) whose talent matches your business need.

A director is the most important person on set. He or she has the clearest vision and oversees the tactical execution of cast and crew selection. A majority of team development, delegation and detail management lies in this role – from hiring casting directors and production managers to script development details (planning) and storyboarding to visualize the plan in motion. Whoever’s directing your business should have a good grasp on strategy and tactics — the vision and minutia details required to produce it.


5. Brace yourself for ‘development hell’

In the movie business production is grueling – long hours, lots of moving pieces and plenty of discomfort. The same could be said of startups.

Producing a new business is an essential perfect storm; and if you lack passion, fortitude and stickability — you’ll quit. It’s exhilarating to create something from nothing. And if you passionately pursue your vision, what seems like “development hell” – taking a long time to start production — is like heaven on earth.


6. Fail early and often in post-production

Don’t be afraid to fail. Believe me when I say, “It is necessary.” Think of every course-correction in business as post-production – where all of the editing, reshoots and marketing occur.

Very few things are perfect upon your first attempt. Are you willing to fail 10,000 times? American inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison did and to his credit we enjoy the fruits of his labor – the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the electric light bulb. So, if you don’t get it right the first, second or third time … edit and try again.


7. Shamelessly promote your theatrical release

When all is said and done, it’s time to distribute your vision. Your business is a new release and it’s perfectly okay to shamelessly promote it to your target audience. Promote features and benefits to a viable and profitable audience. Refine your marketing plan. Establish marketing tactics best suited to your demographic for opening day success.

Take a logical consumer centric approach – romantic comedies (i.e. chick flicks) shouldn’t be marketed to adult men 55+ years of age. In comparison, your business cannot and should not be all things to all people. Identify your “business genre” and serve your ideal audience well.


8. Measure commercial performance

Is your business a commercial hit? Do you have a measurement system in place to gauge the success of your business? Passion is essential, but so is profit motive. Don’t forget to develop key performance indicators (KPI’s) to track and measure performance. There is a successful movie formula and proven steps to make your growing business successful too. Most importantly, enjoy opening day and prepare for the world of opportunities that await … distribution deals, industry awards and more.


Hollywood film-making, like entrepreneurship, is not simply glitz and glamour. It takes preparation and consistent execution to obtain widespread popularity and achieve enormous sales, on and off screen. Remember to leverage your star power, embrace critics and “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary (Dead Poets Society).”


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