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3 Entrepreneurship Lessons from “The Greatest Showman”

Notable lessons from "The Greatest Showman"- a movie review through the lens of an entrepreneur!


I cringe a little when it comes to movie musicals and in full disclosure I wasn’t a big fan until now.

Other than seeing Hugh Jackman on the big screen, I had no expectations about “The Greatest Showman” and I was wrong! What a pleasant surprise!

Not only the movie was well made, musical was actually enjoyable and most of all, the storyline was uplifting and provided some valuable insights into developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

The dream, the hustle, hardships, taste of success and failure in the life of an entrepreneur is outlined quite beautifully in the movie!!

For those who haven’t watched the movie, it showcases the story of P.T Barnum who was a showman and is remembered for founding Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Disclaimer: Am not an expert at fact finding and hence these observations are based on just the movie and not on the actual biography and history of P.T Barnum. Also if you have not yet watched the movie, please be aware of some spoilers as I relate the story .

Here are few of my key takeaways:

Dream Big but Set Specific Goals

Barnum is a perfect example of how we should not set any limits on ourselves. Dream big, live boldly.

The theme of Dreaming Big rides all along the movie wherein Barnum dreams to create the greatest show which people have never seen before. In spite of having lost the job and not having resources, his dream stays strong.

However, what is striking more is that even though his dream is big, the goals are very specific. Throughout the movie, we see how Barnum is so clear on what he wants to achieve — whether it is the kind of business he wants to create, the house he wants to buy for his family, the team he wants to hire, he has it chalked down in detail.

It clearly shows dreaming big will provide the fuel needed to inspire you to achieve your goals. As long as the goals are specific, by following the process and working your way , you can strike off each goal and proceed to another creating huge success in the long run! Key is to stay the course!

Hustle your way but be cautious of the risks

“Execution is the key” — having big ideas and dreaming about them is the easy part, but taking action is where many of them fail.

In the movie, Barnum works his way to realize his dream of putting on a show and entertaining the people with never before seen performances. He strives to hire the right kind of people, which in this case are uniquely talented people as he embarks on his journey to create the museum of oddities. He puts together a great team who will eventually stand behind him to support him through the highs and lows of his showman career.

As Barnum hustles his way through hiring the best talent onboard, he displays powerful art of negotiation and exceptional sales skills through the process!

Here is an example of the subtle yet powerful art of negotiation, how to convince the best talent to get on board at a mutually agreed number!

Yes…a musical again😊

However, when the business is booming, phone is buzzing with leads and customers loving your product, it is hard to take eyes off the prize and this may make you take more serious risks which if not gauged well may result in loss. Also shown in the movie is the time when Barnum takes the biggest risk of them all, getting Jenny Lind, Swedish performer on an American Tour promising a huge sum of money and takes a big bet by risking everything he owned. Without a safety net, this move will turn out to be disastrous.

Even though Jenny Lind tour was successful, when she leaves him before the contract ends, he suffers a huge loss which negatively impacts his life and business.

This delivers a valuable lesson to entrepreneurs how a non -calculated risk taken on an impulse without a safety net can backfire completely and can disrupt the business.

Family comes first, business second.

When success hits you, it is hard to stop and pause to look at other areas of your life. Your health, relationships, family, your faith are the core of you are and business success at the expense of these life pillars can cause you more harm than good.

Barnum’s story is an excellent case study which showcases how neglecting relationships, family can cause imbalance in life and sometimes you need to stop chasing and get back to your roots to regain your happiness. Hit the pause button and take time to reflect inward and take a holistic approach to success.

In his own words, “The noblest art is that of making others happy’’ — P. T. Barnum

Overall the entrepreneurial journey of Hugh Jackman, as P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman” provides some truly valuable lessons about life, relationships, business and success which makes this movie musical worthwhile to remember!

Originally published at medium.com

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