Being a creative and entrepreneurial millennial, I am constantly on the lookout for guides and tips that either helps me acquire/improve a skill or offer a valuable lesson that can be applied to real life. Usually, other blogs and my plethora of weekly and daily newsletters is where I find such inspirations, but today was different.
I started ‘The Intern’ as my leisure activity between work and meals, but 8 minutes into the movie, I realized the potential of it offering valuable lessons in disguise.
Now, this movie is about an e-commerce platform called “About The Fit”, owned by Jules Austin who hatched the idea at her kitchen table in Brooklyn. She had tried everything she owned, described the fit herself and apparently, it worked. She was online in 4 months with 25 employees, and in 18 months she had hired 220 employees.
Okay, doing my best to summarize, here they are:
P.S, this post is loaded with spoilers.
1. Your Business is legit if it’s genuine and solves a problem.
We all have, in one way or another, felt that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we work hard at something, and then other people just don’t get it for some reason. When it comes to businesses, it’s not an anomaly to find that more credit and attention will be given to a business idea that is more ‘technical’ or ‘professional’, whereas idea in the fashion or the arts territory may get dismissed as a hobby or passion project. Particularly, the fact that fashion is often thought of as frivolous is upsetting because guess what, the fashion industry in Africa is estimated to be worth 31billion dollars, and globally it’s worth $1 trillion. The point is, entrepreneurship is a process of innovation, and innovation is all about coming up with better solutions that can be applied to meet existing market needs.
So dear friend, don’t let anyone diminish your zeal as you prep to launch your own thing. Listen to advice, but be confident about your purpose. If you know that idea will be a game changer in whatever industry you plan to dominate, don’t hesitate, instead meditate, pray and make it happen!
2. Care for your team.
It’s important that you recognize just how important your team is. They are the backbone of your business, and hold the unified power to make your business a staggering success or an epic failure. For the amount of time and skill they put into making your idea a reality, simple things like listening, ask questions, helping out and advising them is a menial task. Spend time with them if you can, treat them to a day out or free meals. Nothing is too trivial, and you’ll be surprised just how deeply a simple positive action can affect the life of another individual.
3. Get involved in the process.
Going back to the movie, Jules ordered a package from her site. She wanted to see what it looked like when it arrived at her doorstep. She opened it and realized that the items weren’t wrapped properly, and in fact she didn’t like the packaging at all. A few minutes later she was at the warehouse surrounded by workers all watching her closely as she personally thought them how to wrap and package beautifully.
If you don’t show how much you care about the way things are done or handled, those who work for you will have an excuse to do as they please even if it falls short of your brand values.
4. Timing is important.
Why save for later what you can do now?
Jules may have been known for being an hour late to every meeting, yet she was able to achieve her 5-year plan in 9 months. This says a whole lot about prioritization and time management. Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t respect other people’s time, but I do mean that it’s important to focus on spending time doing deep work that help grow and advance your business as opposed to shallow work that often take more time but produce diminishing results.
5. Give people a shot.
The one person Jules almost didn’t hire turned out to be an amazing skillful multi-tasking, understanding side-kick. He was much older, experienced and always had wise comebacks.
“You remember the day I drove you to the warehouse? You gave me the wrong directions and all that”
– yh I remember.
“Okay well, I stood in the back and watched you show the workers how to fold and box clothes. I knew then that was why ATF was a success. No one else is going to have that kind of commitment to your company. Someone may come with some experience but they are never going to know what you know.”
Sometimes you may have to go with your guts as opposed to what you infer from credentials. Give people the benefit of the doubt, put them to the test and let time decide.
6. Believe in yourself and the capacity of your team.
Jules was being pressure to hire a seasoned CEO, someone with more experience to come in and basically be her boss. The VC’s and investors were afraid they were going to lose hold of the company because they were growing too fast.
However Jules was a fighter who never forgot that SHE and HER TEAM built the business from scratch, and even when the investors thought that they wouldn’t keep up with their own success, she affirmed
I’m going to make it. I’m going to make sure that we make it.
These six lessons prove very applicable especially in our African industries. Since many businesses are startups with few employees, implementing a get-involved or –care-for-your-team process wouldn’t prove daunting. In the same light, we hope that bigger companies or ecommerce stores like Jumia or Spree can imbibe some of these into their brand culture.
Can you believe that I picked all these up simply by watching a movie? I guess TV isn’t so bad after all. How about you, are there any movies you’ve seen recently that really inspired you? Maybe you can tell us about it.
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