Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lessons in Authenticity from "Pretty Woman"

It's Thursday, #ThrowbackThursday, as it's called on various forms of social media, to be exact. What better way to honor that than by doing a entrepreneurship post based on a "classic" film - Pretty Woman.

If you haven't seen the film (shame on you) or you need a refresher, you can watch it on Amazon streaming video - and I suggest that you do.

It's 2-hours long and full of useful tips, but I'd like to just stick with the information that can be gleaned from the first 30 minutes or so.

Let's jump right in:

Scene: Edward (Richard Gere) is lost in a colleague's car, that he clearly can't drive, and he needs directions to the hotel where he'll be staying in Beverly Hills. He stops, in attempt to find the right gear without stripping the transmission when he's approached by Vivian (Julia Roberts). They have a brief exchange about directions and how much she'll charge him. He protests and she responds, "I can do anything I want, I ain't lost."

Business Lesson: When you offer a service to your clients/customers, it's important to remember that you are in control of setting the tone for the relationship, especially in your pricing. Clients come to you because in one way or another, they are lost. They need something. It's up to you to be authentic to yourself and the people you want to serve, but, sometimes, you need to be firm and remind them that they came to you for a reason! You can't be afraid to have that discussion, as necessary.

Scene: Vivian and Edward are riding along in the Lotus and he asks her about her pricing information. She tells him and they exchange words about it. He says, "You're kidding!" and she responds, "I never joke about money."

Business Lesson: KNOW YOUR NUMBERS! You shouldn't stumble or fumble, especially when it comes to discussing your pricing information. I can't stress this enough. If you've read some of my earlier posts, you'd know, I'm a huge fan of Shark Tank and I can't tell you how many times I've seen people come on that show who don't know this information. Is this your business, or is this a hobby that you dabble in from time to time? If it's the former, you should never be thrown off by this discussion.

Scene: In the same scene mentioned above, Vivian tells Edward she charges $100/hour and he tells her that it's crazy talk considering she has a safety pin holding her boot up.

Business Lesson: Appearance matters. We live in a pretty superficial society and that's the way it is. I'm not suggesting that you break the bank in any way to have the latest brand name anything in order to come off a certain way. After all, we're talking about authenticity here and if purple labels aren't who you are, don't do it to impress someone who may or may not become a client in the end. That said, you should be able to find a happy medium between $700 jeans and having a safety pin holding your boot up. If you rock jeans and a t-shirt or in my case, jeans and heels, just make sure it's neat. (And if there is a safety pin holding anything up/together, make sure it's not visible to others)

Scene: Once they get to the hotel and in the room, there are several candid exchanges between Edward and Vivian and I believe that these conversations are part of what endeared her to him. Right down to her taking off that horrid wig and showing her real, red hair.

Business Lesson: Never be afraid to be yourself. The people you are meant to serve will understand and relate to who you truly are. The others will fall away. I talked about that before in a previous post. What resonates within you? WHO ARE YOU? Let that shine through.

Scene: After their first night together, Richard decides to proposition Vivian to stay with him for the remainder of the week. He clearly enjoys her company and her conversation. They start to talk price. She throws out the first number that comes to mind - $4000 and the negotiation starts. They settle on $3000.

Business Lesson: Negotiations require finesse. Being overly eager can cost you. In the end, she says she would have "settled for" $2000 and he said he would have paid $4000. Know your value. Don't allow a client to low-ball you. Not to say this is exactly what happened in this scene, but, $1000 got lost somewhere. Don't allow that to happen to you. Negotiations should provide a win-win scenario and nobody should walk away feeling like they lost anything, especially if you want to do business again in the future.

Let's just end it with 5 lessons. I love the movie and I could probably come up with 10 more, but who has that kind of time. The point I want to make is there is a way to be true to yourself and be true to your clients at the same time. It's up to you to find it. When you give up too much of yourself to make the client happy (as is the case later in the movie), nobody feels good about it.

In order to operate from a place of authenticity, you need to know who you are, who you are passionate about working with, and the value of what you're providing. If you keep these 3 things in mind at all times, I think you'll have a great time as an entrepreneur and your clients will have a great time doing business with you.