8 Entrepreneurial Lessons You’ll learn from Netflix â€œSelf Madeâ€
Youâ€™ll cry. Youâ€™ll get angry. Youâ€™ll cheer, find the motivation and be inspired.
But most of all youâ€™ll learn at least eight entrepreneurial lessons from watching Netflix miniseries â€œSelf Madeâ€.
â€œSelf Madeâ€ is inspired by the story of American first black millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker who created a hair product line for black women. Her story has been preserved and shared by her great-great granddaughter Aâ€™Leila Bundles who wrote about her in the book On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.
The story is set in the early 20th century: when women were not supposed to have aspirations, let alone black women; there was no online audience and traditional marketing was far from being authentic.
For a female entrepreneur like me and you the story is inspiring, it sets your brain on fire and charges with motivation. But inspiration and motivation is nothing if itâ€™s not followed by actions.
Take action: eight entrepreneurial lessons youâ€™ll learn by watching â€œSelf Madeâ€
1. Donâ€™t be silent, tell a storyÂ
In one of the very first scenes, Madam C.J. Walker has to sell someone elseâ€™s hair product. And itâ€™s painful to see her in the market screaming to no one the benefits of the hair product.
Feeling defeated, Madam C.J. Walker is about to give up when one woman approaches her. Thatâ€™s when the entrepreneur changes tactic: â€œLook, this product saved my lifeâ€ she says.
And goes on to tell the story of how she lost her hair, her husband left her, she was hitting rock bottom. And then she started using the hair product, the hair grew back and with that, her confidence. Guess what happens next? Madam C.J. Walker makes not one but twenty sales!
Whatâ€™s the story you need to tell in order to persuade your clients, explain your whys?
During my storytelling coaching sessions with my clients I remind them you have to go through three stages of storytelling: knowing your story, owning your story and sharing your story.
2. Donâ€™t let others project their fear on you
More than once throughout the series, Madam C.J. Walker is confronted by other peopleâ€™s opinions and fears: â€œWhat if you lose everything?â€ â€œWomen should know their place!â€ â€œYouâ€™re dreaming too big!â€
But never once does she stop.
As entrepreneurs, especially at the early stage you are the one person with the vision, you have clarity. Trust that vision, invest time, energy, money in making that vision a reality. Let others keep their fear for themselves.
3. When youâ€™re growing, keep growing
As soon as Madam C.J. Walker reached an objective she aimed for the next one and then the next one â€¦ she continued to scale her business, until she became a millionaire.
And thatâ€™s scary. But the truth is, as time passes you gain more experience, you train (formally and informally), you are more confident, you grow. Why shouldnâ€™t your business grow with you?
Knowing when and how to grow your business requires a good dose of faith, trust and mindfulness. Because you need to able to measure how far youâ€™ve come to admit itâ€™s time to make a step forward.
4. Itâ€™s a battlefield, itâ€™s supposed to be hard
Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the garden. Itâ€™s hard, itâ€™s supposed to be.
Madam C.J. Walker herself went through betrayal, fire (literally), cheating, illnesses, losses.
Iâ€™d say I canâ€™t imagine how she went through it all, but in fact I can. And so can you.
If you have made it this far is because you believe in your idea and its ability to help others. And you are ready to face anything life will throw at you. And for that, you have my support and admiration.
5. Go to your customers
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was no mobile phone, no internet connection, no Instagram nor Facebook. But still, Madam C.J. Walker managed to get to so many women.
She spoke at the market, she knocked on their doors, she made it easy for them to find her and then she shared her story with them.
Our job as entrepreneurs is to connect and listen to our clients. And as much as weâ€™d like to avoid that sometime, thereâ€™s only one way to do that: getting to them, talking to them, finding them. By any means necessary.
6. Create a community
An army. Thatâ€™s what Madam C.J. Walker called her sales representatives: an army of independent women going to serve other women. And whatâ€™s an army if not a community?
When you are clear on the purpose of your business, itâ€™s much more easier to create a community around it. What you are selling is more than a product, itâ€™s change.
You might have caught me saying that Iâ€™d like to think that Iâ€™m changing the world with my work as a storytelling coach. And thatâ€™s because I am determined to make female voices heard and visible. This, despite the fact that I want to be financially independent.
Whatâ€™s your community? Who are you helping or would like to help?
7. Competition can motivate but is not your only stimulant
I loved the way in â€œSelf Madeâ€ they created a strong relationship between Madam C.J. Walker and her competitor. The series suggests Madam C.J. Walker often had to come up with push-the-boundaries ideas because of her competition.
But competition cannot be the only factor that motivates your business. The willingness to serve others should do that.
8. Whatâ€™s your legacy?
On her sunset boulevard, Madam C.J. Walker stresses that she wants to leave her business to her only daughter. And she does.
In marketing terms, they call this â€œexit planâ€: whatâ€™s going to happen to your business once youâ€™re gone? And I donâ€™t mean gone as in being six feet under. I mean what happens next: are you going to run your business forever? Will your family/children take over it? Are you planning on selling it and start something new?
And thatâ€™s the final entrepreneurial lesson youâ€™ll learn from â€œSelf Madeâ€.
The list could go on and on. If you watched the Netflix â€œSelf Madeâ€, what entrepreneurial lessons have you taken from it?
And if you havenâ€™t, which one of the above resonated with you?
To your success!