Most of us grew up watching the Wizard of Oz on TV at least once a year. While we saw the land of Oz and entertainment with Witches, Flying Monkeys and Munchkins, we should also see it as a metaphor for small business ownership.
I know what you are thinking.
There were no business people in the Wizard of Oz. How can this classic story be a business tale? We must look at the characters as examples of the traits that every business owner needs for success.
Cast of Characters
The Visionary - Dorothy, the main character, is what all Entrepreneurs strive to be. She is a Visionary. She sets a goal to reach the Emerald City to see the Wizard and eventually get back to Kansas.
While Dorothy moves toward her goal on the “Yellow Brick Road”, she is continually distracted by the outside world. Whether it is the Wicked Witch, Flying Monkeys or Winkie Guards, poppy fields, Dorothy must remain focused on the end goal.
While she begins her journey on her own, except for Toto the dog, Dorothy slowly assembles a team to help her. Understanding the areas that you are weak in and building a team to help you succeed are critical skills that every entrepreneur needs.
You do not have to go down your “Yellow Brick Road” alone.
A Brain - The first of Dorothy’s friends that we meet is the Scarecrow. We learn from the Scarecrow that he desires a brain.
In a business setting, intelligence is an absolute necessity for every business owner. While this can sometimes be simply the ability to see a problem and look for a possible solution. You also must have a strong grasp of your business finances.
Running your financials and understanding the cash flow of your business should be done on a regular basis. You can hire a bookkeeper to do your books (and believe me you should), you must understand what the numbers mean.
The same with any aspects of our business that we may not be experts at such as technology. You should at least try to understand enough to hire the right person to do that task rather than take it all on yourself.
Courage – The most admirable quality of any business owner. Although you might not believe it, as the Cowardly Lion did, you have courage in you. You have gone out on your own to make your own paycheck. You have taken a risk, so there is courage in you.
You need to draw on that courage when it is time to go to a networking meeting, pick up the phone to prospect or call clients or make tough decisions.
Drawing on your courage is also extremely important when things get difficult in your business. The statistic says that in the first 5 years 4 out of 5 businesses fail. I am convinced that at least 3 out of 5 just give up when adversity sets in.
A Heart – In the Wizard of Oz the Tin Man is looking for a heart. In the end, he finds that he truly had one all along. In the business world today, this is one of the most important lessons.
Like it or not the Millennial generation has changed the world. One of their greatest traits is that they want to know that companies they deal with have a heart. Millennials prefer to spend their money with companies that give back to the world.
Giving your business a heart is more than writing big cash donations. Especially for small businesses, it is difficult to have much impact. This is the reason that at T-Werx we created the Community-Werx program. One small business may not have much impact; however groups of small businesses can have a dramatic impact.
Fun and Family – Toto the Dog represents one of the components of an entrepreneur’s life that we often overlook. Most successful entrepreneurs tend to be workaholics. A direct result of this is that we tend to get a bit self-absorbed.
Toto is a reminder to keep our families close to us and to set aside time with them. An entrepreneur’s life can be lonely and challenging. Having scheduled time for fun and family is the only way to avoid burnout.
In the end, Dorothy discovered that all the above traits were in her as well as her companions. However, she also learned that it was easier to accomplish her goals by assembling a team to help her.
Dorothy leveraged the skills of her team, encouraged them to believe in themselves and allowed them to develop their natural talents. These are all skills that we as entrepreneurs need to develop.
When you are challenged in business remember the story that we are familiar with from our youths. Channel your inner Scarecrow, when you need to analyze your business or solve a problem. Bring out the Cowardly Lion’s courage when you are contemplating skipping that next networking event. Show your customers that you, like the Tin Man, have a heart and are willing support your community. Finally, remember Toto and ensure that you schedule the time to get away from work and spend time with your family.