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7 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

7 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company is a multinational mass media corporation valued at $45.429 Billion. It is the second largest broadcasting and cable company in the world and it has shaped the childhoods and pop culture of millions, probably billions of people. Quite simply it is the most well known company in the history of the world.

And it all started with one man.  

Few people have changed this world to the magnitude that Walt Disney has. He proves that circumstance and education do not dictate what you can become. His life lessons serve as excellent reminders for young entrepreneurs.

1. You must be a salesman.

“I’d say it’s been my biggest problem all my life… it’s money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true.” – Walt Disney

Sales gets a bad reputation, but make no mistake, selling is the most important skill you can master. And as Walt said, dreams take money and money comes from selling. Walt believed in himself and his dreams and could therefore convince others to believe in him too. Halfway through making Snow White, Disney ran out of money to finish the film that was termed “Disney’s Folly.” Even his own family begged him to give it up, but Disney was undeterred. He personally traveled to different producers and showed them the raw footage and convinced them to finish financing the film. Snow White became an instant success and ushered in the Golden Age of Animation. To finance attractions at Disneyland, he persuaded the television studios to finance building the park in exchange for original Disney programming. Guess what the programming was? It was basically an advertisement for Disneyland! This genius plan not only financed the park, but by the time it opened there were millions who couldn’t wait to go! It proved to be one of the most successful media campaigns ever done and it helped grow Disneyland into the international destination it remains today.

2. Leadership is inspiration, innovation and focus.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”. -Walt Disney

The key to Walt Disney’s leadership is that he was an incredible storyteller. It’s one thing to tell your employees to do something, it’s another to inspire them to action. Walt would tell them a story. He would go into extreme detail and make it come alive for them. He would inspire his workers and make them a part of that story and as a result he would get more from them. When he was first pitching his animators on the story of Snow White, he went through the entire story, acting out the characters, even doing their different voices and movements. Walt had a unique ability to hire people more talented than he was and to focus and coordinate their attention towards a common goal. He admitted that he was a terrible animator. So he hired the best he could afford and focused on innovating the company. He also knew his workers. He knew what they were capable of and didn’t accept anything less than their best. He may not have been quick to compliment, but he was always clear about what he visualized and expected.

3. Always be constantly improving.

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved”. -Walt Disney

Walt believed in the future. He insisted that Steamboat Willie have the sound synced and recorded, unheard of for a cartoon at that time. Before Snow White, there was no such thing as a feature length animated film. After it became a huge success and literally changed the film industry, it led to the success of several more beloved Disney classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia. Walt Disney could have rested on his laurels, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, he completely switched gears and set out to build an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. Once Disneyland opened, Walt would walk around the park, personally testing all the rides, noticing if anything was out of place and asking the guests their opinions. If he noticed something was wrong, he would personally see that it was fixed. As his animators could attest, good enough was never good enough for Walt Disney.

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    4. Develop a high tolerance for risk.

    “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

    Walt took a lot of risks in his career. Several times the future of the entire Disney company hung on whether a venture was a success or failure. A few times Walt even had to mortgage or sell his personal possessions. He never did this lightly. He would carefully weigh out both sides and make a decision for bold action and, once decided, never wavered. In 1955, Disneyland was the biggest gamble in the history of American business. Walt struggled to find financing and his own family, including business partner Roy Disney, begged him to give it up. At the time, nothing like Disneyland had ever been attempted, so there was a general consensus that it was impossible. Walt pushed forward anyway. If Disneyland had failed, it would have bankrupted the company. Today, the Disney theme parks bring in BILLIONS of revenue and millions of visitors each year.

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    5. Change your attitude towards failure.

    “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

    Walt Disney failed, a lot. His first studio, Laugh O’ Grams never made a profit. But the most notable is the fiasco of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He lost everything, his studio, his equipment, his animators and his creations. But from the ashes of that immense failure rose one of the most beloved characters ever created. On the train home from learning he had lost Oswald, Walt created Mickey Mouse.

    6. Believe in yourself, even when everyone say’s you’re crazy.

    “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way. Implicitly and unquestionable” – Walt Disney

    Walt Disney had a unique relationship with his brother, Roy Disney. Walt would pitch an idea to Roy. Roy would say no and try to talk him out of it. Walt would continue anyway, and Roy would eventually give in and get the project financed. Throughout his entire career Walt was told what couldn’t be done. He was told no one would sit through an animated feature film. He was told you couldn’t mix animation with real life actors. He was told his idea for a theme park would fail miserably. Someone even told him that Mickey Mouse was a bad idea because a mouse would frighten women. He proved that just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t make it impossible. Impossible is a word of a small minded person and Walt Disney dreamed big. He had an unshakable belief in himself and what he was doing; that was all that mattered.

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    On the opening day of Disneyworld, five years after Walt’s death, someone remarked to creative director Mike Vance that it was too bad Walt Disney didn’t live to see this day. Vance replied, “He did see it. And that’s why it’s here”.

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      7. Resiliency is an entrepreneur’s best friend.

      “The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting” – Walt Disney

      It took Walt 16 years to get the rights to make Mary Poppins, now considered one of the best films of that time. The problems he faced with author P.L Travers are so infamous it has been made into its own movie. He was turned down 302 times when trying to find financing for Disneyland before striking a deal with the television studios. And in the most unbelievable story, he was fired from his first job ever at a newspaper for not being creative and innovative enough! He went on to own that same company. Resiliency is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult circumstances. Walt faced many difficulties that would have made the average person give up. Walt was able to keep pushing because he believed in himself and in his dreams, giving him the resiliency to work hard and make them come true. He believed in doing whatever it took to get the job done and, therefore, he got results that far exceeded what anyone else could have imagined.

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      When Walt was asked what the secret to his success was, he thought for a while and then he said this: “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Today the rules of success are no different. If Walt Disney, a man with limited education from a poor family, could create an entertainment empire from almost nothing, what’s stopping you from dreaming just as big?

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      Published on December 18, 2018

      How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

      How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

      You’ve been in business for years and have finally hit your plateau.

      The tactics you’d implemented for your customers aren’t working as they’ve used to. You feel like your business has fallen out of the spotlight and now you’d have to settle for any business you get. It’s how businesses work, right?

      The truth is that some brands will fade off the business world–while others will adapt well and continue to grow. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for where your business currently stands. After all, you’d kept applying tactics that provided predictable results.

      Instead, decide to not settle for average results and spend more time building your brand. To make your business stand out from your competition, you need to be unforgettable. But how can you?

      In this article, I’ll cover timeless tactics that have worked for other businesses. If you apply these tactics correctly your competition won’t be able to copy them. Here’s how to brand yourself and make your business stand out:

      1. Win Your Audience’s Hearts with Authenticity

      The truth has always shined.

      Even without the technology we have today, people always had a way of finding out if someone was lying. And, with everyone engaging in social media today, it’s hard to hide from the truth. Yet, this seems to be what many businesses fail to do.

      For example, companies like Listerine have been fined for lying.[1] A quick buck today won’t be worth it in the long run. Instead, practice being authentic to your customers and they’ll eventually rely on you.

      Allow your customers to buy your products with a money-back guarantee – then deliver on your promise. Be consistent with the content you provide and stay true to your brand.

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      For example, if you provide coaching services for entrepreneurs, don’t sponsor irrelevant brands. If you stop caring about your brand’s mission, your audience will notice. They’ll question your integrity with your business and stop trusting your brand.

      But if you gain your customer’s trust, you’ll start standing out from your competition. Your customers will feel safe purchasing from you since they’ll know you’re honest.

      2. Share a Story No One Will Be Able to Copy

      A few decades ago, a brand would’ve gotten away without being unique. That’s because back then starting a business was not accessible to most people. You’d either need enough money to launch your business or have the credentials. And even if you had all these qualifications, you needed to get past the gatekeepers.

      Today, technology has disrupted many of the barriers that were present a few decades ago. For example, today a college student can launch a Podcast within a week. He can create a website in a few hours and record a few Podcast episodes. If he’s persistent, he can build a large following overtime and get paid by sponsors.

      This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs but there’s more competition than ever. You can only do so much before other businesses begin to copy you. But what no business can copy is your story.

      That’s why you need to share your story with your audience.

      For example, if you have a money blog, share how you’ve overcome your financial struggles. If you run a freelance writing business, share how you’ve overcome writer’s block. The more your audience can relate to you the better.

      Without a story, your business won’t stand out. And if you copy what’s working for other businesses, you’ll experience short-term success.

      Take some time to share your story with the world, your audience will love you more for it.

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      3. Stop Reinventing Every Single Thing

      “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J.D’angelo

      You may have heard that being original is the way to stand out. While this is true to an extent, you also shouldn’t be original when something is already working.

      For example, if your competition has a successful Podcast in your field, then so can you. Don’t search for better alternatives to a Podcast if it’s already working.

      Why?

      Because this is a waste of time. Instead, copy what’s already working and make it your own.[2] If your competition has a Podcast, figure out which areas you can improve and tailor it around your brand.

      Knowing this you can now spy on your competition and determine which areas you can improve. But, know that it also works the other way around. Others will view your business and copy what’s working for you.

      That’s why it’s important to stay true to your brand and be authentic with your audience. When you do, your competition won’t be able to copy your unique traits. Have an abundant mindset and feel confident for what your business has to offer.

      4. Shine Because of Your Uniqueness

      Stop trying to help the entire world and focus on helping a specific group of people instead.

      I get it, you’re willing to help almost everyone because you want to bring in more business. But the truth is that if you resonate with everyone, you resonate with no one.

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      Take, for example, a marketing agency that helps businesses promote their product. This business doesn’t speak to anyone but gets occasional sales throughout the year.

      But what if there was a similar marketing agency dedicated to helping real estate agents? If there was a real estate agent looking for help in marketing–who do you think they’ll choose? That’s why niching down is necessary if you hope to stand out from your competition.

      Determine which customers you enjoy working with the most and determine which customers bring in the most revenue. Once you’ve gathered enough data, focus on servicing your ideal customer.

      Don’t expect immediate results since this won’t be an easy transition. If you’re currently helping a narrow audience, slowly transition into a niche audience. Niching down is crucial to building raving fans.

      5. Be the Brand Everyone Can Depend On

      Being the brand your customers can depend on is important. How many times have you bought a product that’s failed on its promise? Or have settled for an average service?

      Exceeding your customer’s expectations is a sure way to make your brand stand out. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, studies on human psychology prove that when you give to others, they’ll reciprocate. Offer your customers free consulting, a free ebook, or free quality content. Eventually, they’ll be happy to reciprocate after receiving value from you.

      View what your competition is doing and surpass their offers. For example, if your competition offers a free 15-minute consulting call, offer 30 minutes. When you focus on helping others more, your customers will notice.

      Make it your mission to serve your customers first and then worry about making a profit. Other ways for your business to be reliable is by inspiring your customers. That’s right, a business isn’t only about selling, it’s also helping customers achieve their goals.

      For example, you can write content that will inspire your audience to take action. You can interview guests that will push your audience to break bad habits. Get creative and look for more ways in which your audience can depend on you with.

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      The Bottom Line

      Imagine serving fewer customers and getting paid more than ever.

      Despite the fierce competition, you’ve got fans wanting to buy your products and services. Although this may seem impossible right now, it’s not. If other brands have been able to stand out in a crowded industries, why can’t yours?

      The truth is that standing out from your competition isn’t easy. There’s no secret formula that’s available to the rest of the world. The trick is to do what most brands are unwilling to do.

      Many businesses don’t want to niche down because this will mean a loss in sales. But that’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success. Niching down is necessary to build a brand your customers will love.

      Many businesses will spend a lot of money looking for ways to innovate, but won’t apply what’s working. But, not you.

      You’ve got what it takes to stand out from your competition. Start slowly and master each principle covered here. Now go and make your business stand out like never before.

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      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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