If you once watched Jaws, Jurassic Park or E.T then you would have witnessed the birth of the hollywood blockbuster trend conceived by no other than Steven Spielberg, who’s name has been everywhere this year with the new release of his amazing hit movies “The Adventures Of Tintin” and the most talked about movie of 2012, “War Horse“.
Steven Spielberg has more than 40 years of groundbreaking work under his belt and has influenced countless other directors and the many films he’s made throughout the decades are testament to his perpetual drive for success. Although the majority of his career is primarily involved in cinema, the qualities that have helped him succeed can also be applied by you in the world of business.
What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Steven Spielberg
1. Stay On Your Toes
Complacency is one of the mortal sins of being an entrepreneur. If you want to stay fresh and relevant, you always need to keep your eyes open and learn to adapt to new threats and situations.
When Spielberg directed jaws, he encountered an endless variety of technical problems which bogged down production. In fact, many of the cast and crew famously complained about how excruciatingly slow things were moving along because of the technical difficulties.
However, Spielberg is well-known for being able to think of solutions on the fly and make best of the situation at hand. Jaws went on to become one of the most successful films of all time and won three academy awards.
2. Be Willing To Make Mistakes and Learn From Them
When Spielberg started out, becoming rich and famous was the farthest thing from his mind. When he directed his first independent film Firelight in 1963, he made a total profit of US $1.
He didn’t intend to make a pretty penny from this endeavour but instead did it for his own artistic growth. It might have not won any awards, but he used this experience to learn from it.
In the same way, entrepreneurs need to be open to the reality that they will make miscalculations at the beginning. However, this won’t be in vain because mistakes can be our greatest teacher.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Out There
When you’re starting out in business, don’t expect a bunch of clients to rush to your doorstep. As the saying goes, you need to be willing to pay your dues before seeing a measure of success. That’s why people need to know who you are, what you’re selling and why should they spend their hard-earned cash on your business.
Steven Spielberg started his career as an unpaid intern at Universal Studios. He knew that he had to put himself right in the middle of the industry he wanted to succeed in – even if it meant not earning a single solitary cent for the meantime.
What entrepreneurs can learn from Steven Spielberg is that even today, he still makes it a point to sell what he has in order to continue his success. As a matter of fact, it was even rumoured that he took Will Smith on a helicopter ride to his home just to pitch the script of Men in Black.
4. Do What You Love and Take It Seriously
If you want to succeed in anything that you do, it has to come from a deep wellspring of inspiration. A lot of Spielberg’s films were influenced by the early childhood experiences that resonated deep within him.
For example, the young characters in the movie Super 8 mirrored Spielberg’s own enthusiasm for film making during his early years. In the movie, the children used a cheap handheld camera to make crude home movies that made use of flimsy toy sets for certain scenes. Spielberg himself also did this as a kid. He used toy train sets to depict disaster scenes for his 8 mm movies.
His Jewish heritage has also profoundly influenced his work, such as Schindler’s List. As a boy, he experienced being harassed by other kids in his school for being a Jew. His feelings for anti-Semitism are clearly shown in his movie about the Jews who were persecuted during the holocaust.
5. Fear Is Only A Word
Spielberg has faced a lot of setbacks and obstacles throughout his career. He probably didn’t have the answers all the time, and couldn’t see the end result of what he was doing, but he never let the fear of the unknown get in the way of his success.
If something goes wrong, he doesn’t blame others and takes responsibility for what happened. Instead of backing away from his fears, he chooses to embrace them.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that making it in business means that you have to believe in yourself as well as the products that you carry. Otherwise, it will be easy for you to get distracted and stray from the path you’re on.
Although the initial concept inspired you to get started in the first place, the other half of the equation lies in your willingness to follow through with your vision. You might not know all the variables and you can’t control everything, but sometimes you just have to go with it and hope for the best.
6. Exploit Your Weakness And Turn It Into An Advantage
Steven Spielberg was an outcast at school. He was a loner, and has very little friends. His solitary world led him to turn into an imaginary friend an extra terrestrial being who would become the inspiration to one of Spielbergs most unforgettable films – E.T. His unhampered imagination was later the key for his uncanny skill to tell a story behind a camera. Instead of hiding behind his weakness, he began to use it as front for recognition.
This made for the making of a legendary film maker. What can we learn from this? Use flexibility and customised service as your marketing pitch if you are a small company. This can easily catch your big competitors off guard. If you are seen as an irrelevant competitor that can be and advantage for you and your business.
7. Do Not Stop Dreaming, Keep On Innovating
Spielberg has been in the industry for decades and yet it seems his magic touch for movies that rakes in profits and critical praise did not erode one single bit. He was quoted saying “Once a month the sky falls on my head… and I see another movie I want to make”. Spielberg simply does not stop thinking about film ideas, he is not afraid to venture into other genres. He takes risks, innovates his style, and fits right in to the emotion of the films that he make. What you get is solid entertainment from heavy drama movies like Schindler’s list, to directing realistic, fast paced combat sequences in Saving Private Ryan. Do not stop making your products or services interesting. Entrepreneurship is all about staying on top all the time.
8. Build A Solid Brand That Will Last
Success in entrepreneurship is all about gaining and maintaining the trust of your clients. Spielberg gives his all, whether he is directing or just producing a movie.
Since Spielberg started in the movie industry, he was very careful in the projects that he chose to pursue. Some of them failed of course, but most of them were a hit. This made his name familiar, a simple yet significant seal of movie making excellence. Every time you see his name on the credits, you just know the movie is special, it is good one way or the other. His name simply became a say-nothing-more marketing pitch for movies. If he is on it, the movie must be really good. Back your business up with a good reputation, a name that represents perfection.
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In the end, what entrepreneurs can learn from Steven Spielberg is the simple fact that one has to persevere long enough to eventually master what they’re doing. Spielberg didn’t spend all his time reading theories on film making because he knows that unless you’ve tried it yourself, you won’t really know what it’s like.
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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
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