The lesson: Always use trusted advisers and staff.
Rick Blaine’s upscale Café Américain serves refugees desperate to reach the neutral United States during WW2. Rick is also (seemingly) neutral, so petty criminal Ugarte gives Rick lucrative 'letters of transit' and then refuses to give Rick up, when local police chief Renault asks of their whereabouts, even upon death. Renault refuses to suspect Rick and trusts him to discover who has the letters.
Rick gives former lover Ilsa and husband Victor the letters to escape to America, but not before Rick’s waiter Carl hides Ilsa as she contemplates leaving Victor. These relationships allow Rick to do what is right without sacrificing the integrity of his bar.
How to use the lesson: Put simply, using trusted advisers when both buying and running a small business will help owners get the best deal on price, product supply deals and not be conned. Trusted advisers and staff protect the owner’s livelihood.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
The lesson: Don’t compromise your principles to ensure a better bottom line.
Atticus Finch runs a small legal practice during the Great Depression in Maycomb, Alabama. He never speaks badly of others, including local recluse Boo Radley, who others assume is dangerous.
Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, to the disapproval of the town. Atticus and his children prevent a mob from lynching Tom, by pointing out their misguided view of justice.
Atticus proves Tom’s innocence, but he is still found guilty. The town
How to use the lesson: when running a business there may be moments where owners are asked to behave contrary to their principles. Owners that go with their gut and stick with what is right for their business are likely to be more successful than those who buckle when times are hard.
You can make money from your
Vianne Rocher loves chocolate, so she becomes an expert chocolatier and settles in an antiquated French village. The townsfolk are skeptical about her business, but she remains optimistic, selling top notch products
Vianne’s unique shop is used as a meeting place, and Vianne boosts battered wife Josephine’s confidence by teaching her how to make chocolate. Vianne can’t win over everybody and considers giving up, but the townspeople ask her to stay as her shop mean so much to them.
How to use the lesson: It is possible to turn something that you love outside of work into a small business proposition, but you need to research the business to ensure you know how to sell it to others. Those who enjoy and understand the industry can provide an edge over businesses that do not appreciate customer needs.
It's Complicated (2009)
The lesson: It’s never too late.
Jane is in her Fifties, running a successful bakery in Santa Barbara, California, which she started as a consequence of divorcing her husband for infidelity. Jane begins an affair with her ex-husband
Jane and Jake end their affair amicably and she starts to live her life how she wants to.
How to use the lesson: It is never too late to run a small business, in fact being older, more experienced and financially secure provides
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The lesson: Create the right atmosphere and a business will attract loyal customers.
Shaun hates his job so spends most nights at his
Shaun and Ed drive and are then forced to run with their loved ones to take refuge in the Winchester, as it is the safest place they know. When zombies converge on the pub Shaun finds the eponymous Winchester rifle actually works and uses it to fend zombies off.
The group make a Molotov cocktail from bar spirits and set fire to the bar before escaping into the cellar. Once there, seemingly trapped, they find a service hatch to ground level, and the Army rescues them.
How to use the lesson: Preventing zombie attack may not be high on proprietor’s list of priorities, but by creating the right environment – a home away from home – customers will remain loyal and keep coming back to a business.
You've Got Mail (1998)
The lesson: Without a niche, a small business will struggle to compete with large chains.
Kathleen Kelly Ryan owns a small children’s
Kathleen initially tries to fight back, but she gives up when falls in love with the millionaire owner of Fox Books instead. Her bookshop eventually closes.
How to use the lesson: In the 90s huge retail brands could dominate many product markets. Today’s big business tax avoiders inadvertently encourage customers to divert their loyalty to small businesses. Those businesses that provide a niche product and personal customer service can flourish if they work hard.
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