4 Business Lessons You Can Learn from the Movie `Joy`

If you’re searching for business inspiration, how about looking at what’s playing on the big screen?

The box-office hit “Joy” is a Cinderella story (with plenty of modern family conflicts) based loosely on the life of Joy Mangano, who overcame personal and professional obstacles to create a business empire. She started in the early 1990s by inventing the Miracle Mop that she sold on home-shopping television. But it wasn’t easy to bring her product to the marketplace, as the movie reveals.

So, what business lessons can “Joy” teach us? Here are four movie-inspired tips to help keep your business moving forward this year.

1. Build your business passion step-by-step.

Part of what makes Mangano (both the movie character and the entrepreneur) successful was that she created unique products that she believed would make people’s lives easier. For instance, the Miracle Mop is self-wringing and has a detachable head that can be placed in the washing machine to clean.

In a New York Times interview, the inventor said she sold a few thousand mops in her first year. The sales totaled about $10,000, but the mop had cost her nearly $100,000 to develop. The money came from her savings, family and friends. It took years before she became profitable. Now, she’s a multimillionaire with a whole line of products and more than 100 patents for her inventions.

So, for business owners, it’s a reminder about perseverance. As you know, building a business takes hard work, creativity, humility and patience. 

2. Develop a strong sales and marketing strategy.

When the Miracle Mop was first sold on TV, the sales were slow, and QVC wanted to drop out. Mangano refused to give up. She asked them to let her demonstrate using the mop. As the inventor of the product, Mangano felt she was the best person to sell it. QVC agreed to her request, and when she made her TV debut, she sold a whopping 18,000 mops in 20 minutes.

By communicating directly with consumers through television, Mangano had the opportunity to share stories and benefits about the product. Part of her winning sales pitch is her genuine enthusiasm for her inventions. Businesses often thrive when customers know the face behind the product.

Your sales strategy may not include shopping-networking television, but you should have a plan for routinely connecting with your customers such as through social media and a mobile-friendly website. With social media, it’s important to know where your customers are hanging out and share information that they will appreciate. (Get some social media tips here.) Video can also have a huge impact on your customers. Building an engaged online community can help build trust and respect for your business.

3. Put together a team of advisors.

When it comes to legal, financial and even insurance matters, turn to trusted professional advisors.  In the movie, Mangano encounters problems with the mop manufacturer, including excessive fees and escalating costs. The manufacturer even fraudulently attempted to patent her mop design. If you were faced with similar problems, would you know how handle the legal issues that affect your business?

If you need a list of legal resources, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration website. And no matter how big your business is, you’ll most likely need extra insurance coverage to ensure everything has the proper protection. An insurance professional like a local Erie Insurance agent could help with coverage.

4. Be your own hero.

With your business, you should never stop pushing and networking. It’s easy to give up when everyone around you tells you that “it won’t work” or “you can’t do it.” It takes guts, creativity and drive to go from business survival to success. (You’ll appreciate this idea more when you see the movie.) Ultimately, when you have enough faith in yourself, you’ll be as unstoppable as Mangano.

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