5 Business Lessons We Learned From These Holiday Movies 5 Business Lessons We...

5 Business Lessons We Learned From These Holiday Movies


8 Dec, 2023
a businesswoman sitting at her laptop wearing a christmas hat

Love them or hate them, holiday films have become a staple since the first Christmas movie, Santa Claus, was released in 1898. 

In the century since, hundreds of movies have been made, all hoping to leave viewers filled with joy, wisdom and wholesomeness.

Films like It’s A Wonderful Life, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Love Actually and The Holiday have become essential viewing for this time of the year.

Whether you enjoy these holiday films or sit through them with clenched teeth, there’s a lesson to be learned from all of them. 

While most of them impart wisdom about interpersonal relationships, a few of them have some nuggets of wisdom relating to matters of business. 

Read more: Sweet Lionheart: baking a better business

Here are five business lessons we learned while watching holiday films.

An image with text describing one of the business lessons of the article. It reads 'Embrace failure'

When you’re launching your first business, the last thing on your mind is failure. You put in hours of hard work to ensure your venture succeeds. However, according to the University of the Western Cape, 70-80% of businesses in South Africa fail within five years.

But a business failure doesn’t always mean the end of the road. The lessons you learn from your first venture can be used to turn the next one into a success.

When we’re introduced to Rachel in the holiday movie Something from Tiffany’s, she’s running a thriving business. Her bakery has two bustling locations.

Watching her life unfold, we learn that her current business is not her first rodeo. Instead, the first restaurant she opened failed. But instead of letting her first failure stop her, she goes on to launch an even better business.

Need help embracing failure? Learn How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big in this novel by Scott Adams.

An image with text describing one of the business lessons of the article. It reads 'Accept change'

The truth is that the only constant in life (and in business) is change. Your business will go through many changes as it grows. You might deal with a changing market, fluctuating service prices, and even a shift in your target audience. These changes can either be stressful and detrimental to your business, or you can learn to lean into the changes happening around you to build a better business.

In the classic film The Santa Claus, marketing director Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen) accidentally knocks Santa off the roof. Having caused Santa’s demise, Scott must now assume the position of Santa. Throughout the year, Scott slowly transforms and begins to resemble Santa. While he initially tries to fight the changes happening to him, he soon realises that his only chance at happiness is to embrace the new direction his life has taken.

While the changes your business undergoes might not be as drastic, the reality is that change will happen.

Learn how to deal with change in your work and life by reading Dr Spencer Johnson’s delightful story, Who Moved My Cheese?

An image with text describing one of the business lessons of the article. It reads 'Always be transparent'

As a business owner, the last thing you want your customers to do is shop from your competitor. But being honest about what your product can and can’t do can garner gratitude from your customers.

While you might not close the immediate sale, they’ll be more likely to talk about you to others and spread positive sentiment about your brand, which could lead to future loyal customers. 

In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle works as Santa for Macy’s in New York. Part of his duties is to recommend the store’s products to customers. Instead, he sends them to Macy’s competitor. While this infuriates the store owners, his recommendation fills the customer with gratitude, which leads them to become a loyal Macy’s customer.

Learn more about creating loyal customers by diving into the book Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss. 

An image with text describing one of the business lessons of the article. It reads 'Kindness breeds loyalty'

No person is an island. As much as you’re in charge of making your business successful, that success can be helped or hindered based on your relationships with others. The best way to win others over is by being kind – whether they’re customers, staff or potential business partners.

According to the Harvard Business Review, leaders who lead from a place of kindness are often more effective. Employees who work for this type of leader are often more engaged, productive, loyal and less likely to leave.

In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge only learns the value of kindness when he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. When we’re first introduced to Ebenezer, he is a miserly businessman who refuses to help those around him.

On the anniversary of his business partner’s death, the ghosts show him glimpses of his life to encourage him to be more compassionate to those around him. Ebenezer learns that by refusing to extend kindness to those around him, he dies alone. After witnessing this potential future, Ebenezer treats everyone with kindness, which breeds loyalty.

Read more: The Fussy Vegan: using customer loyalty to scale their business

This holiday season, don’t wait for the ghosts of your past to teach you to be kind. Instead, learn how to use kindness to build healthy relationships with those you work with by reading this article by Harvard Business Review. 

An image with text describing one of the business lessons of the article. It reads 'Remember your why'

As your business grows, so does your list of responsibilities and bills. To ensure your business remains successful, it’s only natural that you focus on measures that’ll bring in the most profit. While implementing these processes, don’t forget why you started your business: to turn your passion into purpose.

In the Hallmark movie Christmas CEO, we’re introduced to Christmas ‘Chris’ Whitaker, who’s on the verge of selling her toymaking business, CJ Toys. Chris and her business partner, Joe, started the company after developing a passion for selling toys at a holiday stand when they were teenagers.

As their business became a successful venture, Chris began focusing solely on profits, losing sight of the passion that led to them starting the business. As she tries to persuade Joe to sell the business, she’s reminded of why they began in the first place and her passion is reignited. 

As you take on more responsibility in your business, it’s easy to lose sight of why you started. If you need help remembering your why, add Simon Sinek’s Start With Why to your reading list.

Entrepreneurship is often associated with suits, ties and boardrooms. These films show us that business lessons aren’t bound by conventional paths; they can come in any shape or sparkly form.

Whether you watch them to learn a business lesson or two or to simply enjoy the festive spirit, we hope they offer a new perspective to the way you run your business.

Written by

Megan is a Content Strategist at SnapScan, with a book-buying habit that is spiraling out of control.

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