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5 Lessons We've Learned About Running A Business

5 Lessons We've Learned About Running A Business

by Mandi Harrison

I don’t remember what point in life I realized that there was more to making movies than just picking up a camera and yelling action. That there are people, lots of people, with money involved and that money makes them feel entitled to make decisions. There is more business than show going on behind the scenes.

Making a movie is like running a business. Chris and I have always looked at this as a business, and we decided that we should be the CEOs. We’ve studied many movie studios and production companies, but we’ve also taken inspiration and guidance from other sources. Here are a few things we’ve learned about how we want to run our business.

Make The Most Of Opportunities- The Kardashians

Say what you will about the Kardashian/Jenner fam (and most people do), but they aren’t stupid. I used to say they were my guilty pleasure, but I’m not afraid to admit it now: I. AM. A. FAN. Are they a tad ridiculous? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, they are providing for their family.

The reality show opened doors for Kris Jenner and her girls, and they jumped on those opportunities. They have clothing, make-up and fragrance lines; they’ve owned boutiques and they are fully involved in all aspects of the business. They aren’t in-name-only business owners. Kylie Jenner alone is on course to be the youngest billionaire, with her lip kits and other endorsements. What the Kardashians have taught us is to seize the moment; use the opportunities given to us now because they can lead to others down the road.

Know Your Audience and Grow With Them- Taylor Swift

I think we all know how I feel about Taylor Swift. But as much as I love her for her music, I love her even more for her approach to business. Yes, Taylor Swift is a business. Every little decision is so well thought out. Every album, every interview, every tour. They all have a purpose and a plan. Taylor stays up to date with trends, putting them to use in her music, her marketing and how she connects with her fans. She stays in control of her social media, letting fans in just enough that they feel the connection. She monitors her mentions on social media platforms, reaching out to fans through social media, sending special gifts and invites to listening parties at her house and special meet & greets on tour. She is the giver of Golden Tickets, the dream BFF, the one who understands, and every little detail is meticulously planned. She takes the time to understand what is happening around her and uses that to build relationships. She wants her audience to grow with her, and still be accessible to new fans. What we have learned from Taylor is that we have to constantly know and grow our audience. Look at trends and think ahead.

Inspire Loyalty & Trust By Sharing Your Sh*t- Apple

Deep down, I have always been an Apple girl. I tried to justify not getting an iPhone for the longest time, but I just couldn’t fight it anymore. And now, I will never get anything other than Apple. I love the simplicity, I love the cleanness, and I love how I can connect all my products. Their products and their service has inspired brand loyalty from me.

Every September, Apple has a Keynote Event, showcasing their new products and events. A lot of people think that it’s a waste of time and money, saying it’s a meeting that could’ve just taken place in an email; that it’s just a greedy corporation looking for ways to get people to spend money. My thought is: Isn’t that the purpose of a business? To make money? They are providing products that are in demand, they have exceptional customer service and product care, and they insure that your software is up-to-date. Apple has been innovative since day one, always looking for the latest in technology. The Keynote Event shows the world what they’ve been working on, what’s coming next in technology and communication. These are things that they have been developing for years, and they are finally ready to view. The Keynote event shows, explains and demonstrates the products. Their website has clear, concise instructions and on top of that, Apple stores have classes on any topic you might want to learn. Their Apple Geniuses will walk you through how to use your product. What Apple has taught us is to earn trust, you need to be knowledgeable. If you have a product that is in demand, continue to improve that product and share the information.

The Devil Is In The Details- Vogue

If you’ve ever watched The Devil Wears Prada, you remember the “Cerulean” scene, where Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly calls Anne Hathaway’s Andy out on her prejudice towards fashion. What happens in the land of high couture affects every clothing decision ever made. This movie is a personal fave, and although I understand and empathize with Andy (your friends need to go, girl!), I actually relate more to Miranda.

Miranda is loosely (or not so loosely based) on Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief for Vogue magazine for the past 30 years. She also has been the art director for Conde Nast for the past 5 years. Anna has the reputation for being brusque and not easy to please, and to a casual observer, a control freak. Vogue’s best selling issue is The September Issue, where the next year’s trends will be revealed. Designers and advertisers compete to be included in this issue. It takes months to put together, and every square inch has a purpose. There is a documentary called The September Issue and it is one of the most fascinating things I have ever watched. I have always wanted to work for a magazine, and this just thrilled me. Anna knows every little detail on every page number. She knows every model, every designer, and every advertiser. There are very few people who she will allow to touch the issue, and she still is involved in those decisions. The mock pages for the issue are incredible- they are pieces of art themselves. There is another documentary, The First Monday In May, about the Met Gala that Anna helps put together at The Museum of Modern Art. Both of these documentaries show the thought and care that goes into what a lot of people would deem insignificant or petty, but what others, myself included, consider art. What the editors at Vogue, Anna especially, have taught us is that every detail matters and as someone in charge, it’s your responsibility to know those details.

There’s so much more that we have learned, from our own experiences and just from reading and observing. We are still continuing to learn what we want our own business to be, and will continue to learn. There’s one more lesson that I have learned- Take your time and do it right. Doing something half-ass or without researching will only hurt you (and others potentially) in the long run.

If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.
— Conan O'Brien
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