small business success best movies

What the Year’s Best Movies Can Teach Us About Small Business Success

They’ll make you laugh, cry, and ponder the limits of determination and strength. When it comes to movies nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, there is much we can learn. And that also includes what they can teach us about small business success.

These are a few of the key lessons you can learn from this year’s nominees.

Master Communication

We’re not saying that you should learn how to speak to aliens like linguistics professor Louise Banks in Arrival. But there are plenty of lessons we can learn from Amy Adams’s character without going that far.

In the sci-fi flick, she races against the clock to learn how to communicate with aliens to find out why they have landed on Earth and what they want. While your business may not be quite as high stakes, it’s certain that learning how to convey the right message is crucial for any small biz.

Similar to Arrival, figure out what people are looking for—and how you can deliver it. By keeping the lines of communication open, you’ll be able to target the bottom line through knowing what people’s needs and expectations are.

Embrace Equality

Hidden Figures tells the true story of a group of female African-American mathematicians who made incredible advancements for NASA by making the calculations that enabled astronaut John Glenn to go into orbit safely during the space race with Russia.

While that makes them American heroes, we see them struggling with racism during the Civil Rights era, including a scene in which they must use the “colored” bathrooms across campus. That triggers NASA to realize they must treat their employees more equally in order to ensure progress for their space initiatives—and beyond.

Let that serve as a reminder that by treating all of your employees with respect — no matter their gender, age, or where they come from — your projects will rise when everyone is treated fairly.

Never Give Up

In Lion, Saroo is a young boy living a happy but impoverished life with his family in rural India until he ends up separated from them a thousand miles away from home. He is eventually adopted by loving parents from Australia, but he always wonders what happened to his biological family.

Determined to be reunited with them, Saroo goes on an adventure to track them down. Even in the age of technology, it’s not an easy process, and he overcomes many hurdles along the way.

Next time you hit a mountain you must cross at work, channel Saroo: Think about clever solutions, since there’s more than one way to tackle a challenge. And keep trying again and again.

What’s Old Is New Again

The Wizard of Oz. Singin’ in the Rain. West Side Story. My Fair Lady. Those are just a few classic movie musicals. While they were a staple in American cinema for decades, the genre had recently fallen out of favor — until La La Land came along, putting a modern touch on an old favorite.

We’re not saying you should burst into song and dance at your next meeting, but follow in the fancy footsteps of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone by finding a way to put a new spin on a vintage approach. That creativity captivated audience, and it can captivate customers, too.

Stick to Your Values

Based on a true story, Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond T. Doss, an American army medic sent to battle in World War II. As a religious man, he’s a conscious objector who refuses to fire a shot.

Instead, he crosses enemy lines to save injured soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa and is awarded the Medal of Honor for his immense bravery and dedication to other soldiers. When you’re surrounded by people who don’t believe the same things as you, it can be hard to stick to your guns. But Doss illustrates the importance of listening to your gut.

Running a small business requires making many difficult decisions, and letting your moral compass guide you can help you determine what’s right for you and your company.

Let Go of Grudges

We all know the power of forgiveness, but sometimes it’s just not that easy. That’s something Troy Maxson, the main character in Fences, set in 1950s Pittsburgh, struggles with. By the time black people were allowed to play professional baseball in the major leagues, Maxson was too old, and he lets this grudge affect his son’s athletic hopes.

It can be hard not to let past negatives affect the future of your business. Whether it’s reading a bad review of your company on Yelp or dealing with a difficult customer, it’s important to take a deep breath and not let your emotions get the best of you. Instead, reflect on what caused the unfortunate experience and figure out what you can to do prevent it from happening again.

Find Your Road

Set in a rough neighborhood in Miami during the drug war years, the audience watches Chiron grow up in Moonlight with little guidance, struggling to find his place in the world. As he comes of age, he must learn to carve a path for himself.

Similarly, it can be hard for new businesses to find their way. Determine a clear direction that you’d like your company to take. By thinking that through and having a clear vision and path, it’ll make success much more attainable.

Face Your Past

In Manchester By the Sea, the life of Lee Chandler is told in a series of flashbacks and present day scenes, slowly unveiling what led him to flee from his town and his life there.

Dwelling on the past isn’t always the best idea, but there are always lessons to be learned. Think of what you could have done better along the way, and how that can shape your business going forward.

Celia Shatzman

Celia Shatzman is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written about everything from travel to fashion, beauty, finance, health, fitness, and entertainment.