Four business lessons you can learn from La La Land

Who doesn’t love a bit of old-fashioned Hollywood escapism? And Golden Globe-winning musical La La Land delivers it in spades.

But it’s not just two hours of all-singing, all-dancing entertainment. The award-winning movie also offers important life (and business) lessons.

[Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen La La Land, this article may give away some of the plot. So bookmark it, or print it out and read later. We’d hate to spoil a beautiful film for you!]

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Four business lessons you can learn from La La Land

So what can we learn from the story of Mia and Sebastian? Here are four business lessons we took from the film.

1) If you can’t find it, make it

When Mia can’t get a role of her own through auditions she writes and stages her own play. It’s finally via this she lands a successful audition (and finally launches her career).

And real life is no different. If you can’t find the opportunities you want in your career – if the people around you don’t see your potential – go out and make them for yourself.

If that means starting your own business, then why not? Mia could easily have remained as a barista for another six years, waiting for a casting director to pick her out of a crowd of identikit actresses. But she didn’t.

She took a risk, quit her job, and wrote her own production. For one night she made herself a star on her own stage. And that gamble paid off.

So why not write YOUR own happy ever after, and start a business you can star in too?

2) Success doesn’t (usually) happen overnight

When we meet them, both Mia and Sebastian have been patiently working hard for their respective dreams for years, despite their talent – Mia serving in a coffee shop waiting for her big break (and going on endless depressing auditions) and Sebastian playing in restaurants, saving up for his own jazz bar.

And again, real life is no different. For every overnight success you hear about, there are many more businesses who have finally made it after years of quiet hard work in the background.

Few actresses (if any) land a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster after their first audition. And few businesses instantly turn over a healthy profit with loyal customers and a well known brand in their first year.

The entrepreneurs that we see go on to achieve success are usually the ones with resilience. The ones who can take the disappointments, the knock backs, the tough weeks and months, and bounce back from failure to keep going.

And if you are ever tempted to give up, just remember – so was Mia right before her final audition, when she really did ‘make it’.

3) You need a bit of magic

Eventually Mia and Sebastian achieve their dreams. But for each star that’s made, there are thousands of wannabes destined to serve in coffee shops and play in restaurants forever.

So, as important as it is, don’t assume that simply turning up and trying is enough – you need a little more. Some magic. Talent. Passion. Creativity. Ingenuity.

For a business, that magic may be in the little extras you offer to your customers. The unexpected free gift. Beautiful packaging. Thank you cards. Or it may be in clever, memorable branding. Something that marks you out as a star among other me-too businesses.

It doesn’t matter where you find your magic. What’s important is that you have it in your business, somewhere.

4) Life is complicated

There’s no Hollywood happy ending for Mia and Sebastian. Yes, their dreams come true – Mia becomes a star and Sebastian gets his successful jazz bar. But they lose each other along the way.

And there are few Hollywood endings in real life – or business – too. You may achieve success, but it can come at a price. You might lose, or have to give up, things you love along the way. There are times you’ll need to make tough choices and compromises. And people you thought were in it for the long haul, people you thought shared your dream, may leave.

But that’s just life. It’s complicated. So yes, dream of a Hollywood happy ending for your business, but be prepared if it’s not quite the one you’re picturing right now.

Photo credit: Dale Robinette