5 Things ‘The Greatest Showman’ Taught Me About Running a Successful Business

I know that I’m a bit behind in my viewing of The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman. My mom saw it in theaters and loved it, but I wasn’t able to make it out to the theaters for this one. While dog/house-sitting for a friend,  I had the night to myself so I rented the movie on Amazon, popped some popcorn, snuggled up close to the puppy with my computer warm on my lap, and pressed play. (I was very cozy if you can’t tell!)

I knew that I was in for a treat when the opening song started blaring out of the speakers in a triumphant, upbeat feast for the senses. Sure enough, the movie delivered on great music, awesome performances, and non-stop inspiration, but what I didn’t expect was to be inspired as a business owner as well! Here are five things I learned from The Greatest Showman about how to run a successful business:

1. Maintain a spirit of positivity.

I am often embarrassed to admit it, but I have a personality that tends toward distress. My thoughts tend to skew negative before becoming positive, which is really difficult when you own your own small business. One thing that really struck me about P.T. Barnum’s character—as portrayed in the movie—is that he doesn’t let circumstances ruin his joyful spirit. He is able to find good in the bad situations and make the difficult times a bit more fun for his family. Though they live a simple life, they are happy, even if Barnum does have dreams of something greater.

As a business owner, it can be so easy to accept defeat in difficult situations, but in order to be successful, we must maintain a spirit of positivity. Just think: you get to make money doing something that you love! Not everyone gets to do that. The next time you are feeling defeated, take a step back from whatever you’re working on and make a list of three successes you have had in your business, and let those positive memories drive you to keep going!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Barnum’s big dreams of success couldn’t have been achieved if he had tried do do everything by himself. Whether it was his daughters helping him hang signs and hand out flyers or O’Malley selling tickets, Barnum had help from his friends and family the whole time. When the entertainers finally join him, I was struck at how they each had different talents that they brought to the table. In my photography business, I know that there are things that others are more skilled at achieving than I am—so I outsource those items. For example, my incredible editor, Alisa, is so talented and helps me quickly edit my galleries so that I’m not bogged down spending every second of my day editing and so that my clients aren’t waiting for their final images!

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. For example, your spouse can watch your kids while you work for an hour in the evening, or your friends can share your social media posts to their friends. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box with things that might be slowing you down in your business: how can you get some help? You started your business to do what you love and live the life of your dreams: not to do everything on your own!

3. Be yourself and don’t hide it!

“When the sharpest words want to cut me down;
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out;
I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me!”
—This is Me, The Greatest Showman

There is only ONE YOU in the world! You are a blessing and the world needs what you and your business have to offer. I once heard it said that even in the over-saturated creative industry, there is still room for your business because there is only ONE YOU and only you can serve your clients in the way that you do. What you do will be different from the next photographer, wedding planner, florist, etc. So share what makes you different online and don’t hide your personality and all of the things that make you YOU!

4. Comfort is the enemy of progress.

When Barnum says this while meeting with Phillip Carlyle at the bar, it is said so quickly and in passing that you almost miss it if you’re not paying attention. But this quote stopped me in my tracks! I paused the movie and went back a few seconds to hear it again. Big dreams are scary and we can sometimes be deterred by everything it takes to bring them to life. We get comfortable in our routine and change can seem completely overwhelming. But if you want to achieve your big dreams, you have to put yourself out there and do things you’ve never done before.

In the spirit of encouraging you do step outside of your comfort zone, I want to share something that I’ve told people about but have never actually put in writing: my big, scary dream is to own an event venue one day! This dream excites me and terrifies me all at the same time, but it is a dream I have and want to achieve. Now… who knows of some real estate in the area…? 🙂

5. Never sacrifice relationships in the name of success.

I have to admit that I started to get really frustrated with Barnum as he garnered success. It was obvious that he was forgetting the people who had been with him through all of the ups and downs of their journey the more famous his show became. In my own business, I strive to maintain relationships with my family and closest friends, even if that means the items on my to-do list get pushed back by a day. Busy is a badge of honor in today’s society, but we should never sacrifice close relationships in the pursuit of “more, more, more”.

Now, I’m going to go watch the movie one more time, and continue playing the soundtrack on repeat! (You should join me in singing “Rewrite the Stars”—which is my favorite!!). If you’re a fan of The Greatest Showman, what struck you about the film? Leave a comment for me below!

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