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Six Fundamental Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

His success is all the more amazing when you learn how many times Walt Disney failed.

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Walt Disney

Everyone knows Walt Disney. Almost everyone has been to a Disney park somewhere, seen a Disney movie (live action or a cartoon) or knows some Disney character. Some people even go on Disney cruises.

Disney the man

I think in some ways people know more about Disney, fewer people about Disney the man. Walt Disney, the man, has somewhat faded into the background for many people. It is understandable since he died fifty-one years ago, in 1966. Walt was a visionary, an entrepreneur and a creative genius. There are some invaluable lessons every entrepreneur can learn from what he was able to accomplish in his life.

1Never give up

Many people don’t know that Walt Disney was not an overnight success. He started several companies that went bankrupt. He started a commercial art studio, and it tanked. He tried to create advertisements, and they also failed due to lack of revenue. Instead of giving in or giving up, Walt always just tried the next thing.

As Walt said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Related: 7 Profound Business Lessons From The Founder Of Planet Fitness

2Be a problem solver

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Walt Disney was the consummate problem solver. He was very observant and was always looking for ways to solve a problem and how it could be an opportunity in the marketplace.

He took his daughter to a park to ride some rides, and he noticed the rides were dirty and in bad shape, and the people operating the rides were rude.

Walt thought about this problem – and it became Disneyland. He wanted a place that was safe and clean, where parents could take their kids.

As Jason Kilar once said, “When I was 10, we drove to Disney World. When we arrived, what impressed me most was the meticulous attention to detail; there wasn’t a gum wrapper anyplace.”

3Be willing to reinvent yourself

Many people don’t know that Disney’s first major cartoon star was not Mickey Mouse – it was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He had signed a contract with a distributor for the short cartoons and was thrilled with their success.

When he went to renew the contract, they fired Walt. The distributor said (unknown to Walt) that they legally owned Oswald, and that Walt Disney didn’t, as outlined in the contract.

Even worse, all of Walt’s animators left Walt and went to work for the other company.

Walt went home having lost his biggest success. He had to start over.  As Walt said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”

Related: The 7 Business Lessons You Should Learn by 30

4Surround yourself with talent

walt-disney-drawings

Walt Disney admitted he was not the most talented at drawing or animation. As he once said, “I started, actually, to make my first animated cartoon in 1920. Of course, they were very crude things then and I used sort of little puppet things.” He was brilliant at knowing what he did best and was able to hire the best artists and animators in the world.

The person who animated Mickey in the early was not Walt but an animator named Ub Iwerks. Walt didn’t have to have the talent for drawing, but he had the vision. It’s like being an architect – you don’t have to be the general contractor. You just have to know what you want the project to look like when it is done.

5Be curious

Walt was an inquisitive soul and always wanted to learn new things. In animation, this led to some stunning developments in the early years.

He is famous for making the first sound cartoon, the first live action and animation mix film, the first full-length cartoon movie. Until then, Walt’s cartoons were fluffy, short, mindless entertainment people watched that came on before the main feature.

Here is the point and don’t miss it – he didn’t know how to do any of those things. His curiosity led him to investigate how to do these things and figure out how to get it all done. Walt said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Related: 3 Inspiring Business Lessons From Billionaire Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey

6Diversify

Walt was smart enough after building a successful animation studio to get into live action movies, documentaries, television, amusement parks and tons of products. He could have just been an animation studio, but that would not have created the kind of success his company had.

I think Walt said it best: “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”

Every business needs to keep looking at ways to grow and diversify.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Shawn Doyle is a professional speaker, author, executive and life coach. Two of his books have been Amazon number-one bestsellers, and his books have been translated into 10 languages. He is the president of New Light Learning and Development, a company that specializes in leadership-development programs and executive coaching. Some of his clients include NBC, NASA, Disney, Comcast, Kraft, Microsoft, The Marines and Lockheed Martin.

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Lessons Learnt

7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business

These entrepreneurs have capitalised on a new market set to continue to grow rapidly as more countries legalise marijuana across the world.

Catherine Bristow

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1. Brendan Kennedy

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Brendan Kennedy worked on job sites as a carpenter to pay his way through university, with his eyes set firmly on becoming an architect, until the allure of Silicon Valley changed the course of his direction. While working at technology start-ups Kennedy began thinking about the possibilities that medical marijuana provided.

“I was really sceptical of medical cannabis,” he says. “It took a year of having conversations with patients and physicians and hearing the same story, repackaged but essentially the same, over and over and over again, where my scepticism eroded and I became a believer.”

In 2013, Kennedy and his partners applied for a licence from Health Canada and launched Lafitte Ventures, which was later renamed Tilray. Today, the company is a global leader in medical cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.

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Lessons Learnt

Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt

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You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:

Leadership

The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.

Infrastructure

The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.

People

It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.

Strategy

It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.

Finance

Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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Lessons Learnt

That Time Jeff Bezos Was The Stupidest Person In The Room

Everyone can benefit from simple advice, no matter who they are.

Gene Marks

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When you think of Jeff Bezos, a lot of things probably come to your mind.

You likely think of Amazon.com, a company he founded more than twenty years ago, that’s completely disrupted retail and online commerce as we know it. You probably also think of his entrepreneurial genius. Or the immense wealth that he’s built for himself and others. You may also think of drones, Alexa and same-day delivery. Bezos is a visionary, an entrepreneur, a cutthroat competitor and a game changer. He’s unquestionably a very, very smart man. But sometimes, he can be…well…stupid, too.

Like that time back in 1995.

That was when Amazon was just a startup operating from a 2,000 square foot basement in Seattle. During that period, Bezos and most of the handful of employees working for him had other day jobs. They gathered in the office after hours to print and pack up the orders that their fast-growing bookselling site was receiving each day from around the world. It was tough, grueling work.

The company at the time, according to a speech Bezos gave, had no real organisation or distribution. Worse yet, the process of filling orders was physically demanding.

“We were packing on our hands and knees on a hard concrete floor,” Bezos recalled. “I said to the person next to me ‘this packing is killing me! My back hurts, it’s killing my knees’ and the person said ‘yeah, I know what you mean.'”

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

Bezos, our hero, the entrepreneurial genius, the CEO of a now 600,000-employee company that’s worth around a trillion dollars and one of the richest men in the world today then came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea. “You know what we need,” he said to the employee as they packed boxes together. “What we need is…kneepads!”

The employee (Nicholas Lovejoy, who worked at Amazon for three years before founding his own philanthropic organisation financed by the millions he made from the company’s stock) looked at Bezos like he was — in Bezos’ words — the “stupidest guy in the room.”

“What we need, Jeff,” Lovejoy said, “are a few packing tables.” Duh.

So the next day Bezos – after acknowledging Lovejoy’s brilliance – bought a few inexpensive packing tables. The result? An almost immediate doubling in productivity. In his speech, Bezos said that the story is just one of many examples how Amazon built its customer-centered service culture from the company’s very early days. Perhaps that’s true. Then again, it could mean something else.

It could mean that sometimes, just sometimes, those successful, smart, wealthy and powerful people may not be as brilliant as you may think. Nor do they always have the right answers. Sometimes, just sometimes, they may actually be the stupidest guy in the room. So keep that in mind the next time you’re doing business with an intimidating customer, supplier or partner who appears to know it all. You might be the one with the brilliant idea.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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