The movie and film industry is big business worldwide. With the recent smashing of the highest-grossing movie record by Avengers End Game which earned a ridiculous USD2.796 billion in ticket sales alone worldwide the industry is certainly doing better than ever. There is a wide world of movies with places such as India and of course Nigeria housing big movie industries. For entrepreneurs and those in business, there is a lot we can learn from how these successes are achieved and we can condense it to business lessons we should all learn. I’ve distilled 5 of what I think are the most important lessons we can learn from the movie industry.

Collaboration: Federation of experts

How many people does it take to make a movie? While a small crew can make a decent movie you’ll find that the big cash earners have cast and crew compliments that easily go into the multiple hundreds. Movies use a business model known as a federation of experts. Individuals or companies who are specialised at specific things come together to create a production under one banner. There’s a lot of fear of working with others especially in the start-up phase but the best startup stories have at least two names listed as founders. Working together doesn’t always mean being tied together, you can work with others with clearly defined goals without being joined at the hip so to speak. Perhaps you can collaborate with someone with products related to yours to reach more customers and serve them better.


If you pick up only one thing from this list, let this be the one. The promotion game in the movie industry is second to none. They have mastered the art and fully taken advantage of where technology is at. Modern blockbuster movies will have somewhere between 4 to 6 trailers or more released strategically as the movie release nears. Each one giving you a little more to be excited about. Throw in premiere parties, press, interviews to that cavalcade. The rise of youtube and video content online has not been ignored in this pursuit. They have also made great use of influencer marketing in it’s current. The idea of letting critics review movies pre-release is not new, they have been doing this for a long time. Now that influencers are front and centre they have roped them in too to great effect. How can you use this? Don’t just launch a product. Put some fanfare and excitement into it. Use influencers to your advantage, show people who are adopting and enjoying your product whether they are famous or not. With their consent of course. And while we’re on that subject the next point joins very well with this.

Stories matter

Thus far I’ve spoken about big blockbuster movies but the world isn’t dominated by them. There are small, even micro productions going on out there. Some have found success with small budgets because what matters most in a movie is the story being told. Stephen Soderbergh’s movie Unsane was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 and it’s not the only one. If you’re into the horror or thriller genres I recommend you watch it. It’s not always fancy equipment that makes movies great. The Blair Witch Project found great financial success more for the story it told than any large amount spent on making the movie.  So it is with your products. Your product is great, it wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t but people are impacted through stories. So if you’re going to promote, tell a story. Stories are relatable beyond any other effort at marketing.

Risk and reward

We are continually told about risk and reward. In business, rewards go to the person who takes the risk. Think about how movies are made, a lot of money has to be put up for movies. Back in 1996 Tom Cruise, through his newly formed production company, put up the money for Mission Impossible. Today Tom Cruise is listed as the second richest movie actor in the world. Cruise is only second to a man those familiar with Indian “Bollywood” movies would easily recognise, Shah Rukh Khan. Both these men make their money of production of the movies not just acting of course. The greatest reward goes to the people who take the greatest risk in a project. Employees may execute the work but they wouldn’t be able to without the owners/shareholders/Investors taking the risk in the first place.

Keep it simple

Sylvester Stallone sold his dog to make ends meet while pushing Rocky. Today Rocky has created a formidable franchise with the latest entry in it earning over US$200 million against a budget of US$50 million. The Rocky series of movies follow a simple formula that many of us should be familiar.with in action movies. Howard Schultz, Starbucks owner spoke in the book Onward about how the philosophy at Starbucks was simply to.make one excellent cup of coffee and repeat. Make each cup great. Not to think about making millions of great cups of coffee but focus on making the current cup great. Simplicity is a great lesson to learn here. Do not over complicate your thought process with worrying about this that and the next thing. If you have one customer, serve that one customer well. And do so with the next one. Keep it simple, focus on the one you are dealing with now. With time and effort you.will.have 100 well-served customers. Then 500. Then 1000 and so on.

I’m sure there are a lot more lessons that you can learn from the movie business. Maybe you have some you have noted that can be useful to people in the business. We would be happy to hear them.