Starring Hugh Jackson, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, The Greatest Showman quickly became one of the most popular films around. It’s everyone’s favourite modern musical! The songs are addictive, the dance routines are spectacular and the story itself is inspiring.
What can the story of P.T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus teach us about money?
Caution: may contain spoilers.
We see that Barnum gives different business avenues a try before settling on his idea of the circus. Even after that, he goes on to other business ideas as well. From being his father’s helper to selling newspapers when he’s living on the streets, to the railroad, to a job in an office just to make ends meet. The museum he comes up with doesn’t work in the first instance but he changes things and makes tweaks, so it does. Give ideas a go but learn to adapt them as you ‘smell what sells’.
Don’t be afraid to use your unique assets. The characters we see in the circus all have incredible individuality. Other ‘regular’ folk might not like it and may throw insults their way but they learn to brush it off. Whoever you are, however you look, whatever makes you unique, use it to the best of your ability. Stand out from the crowd, be different, you might even make some money from it!
Always make sure that you have a solid contract in place. Jenny Lind pulls out of the tour that P.T. Barnum has already paid her for, paid the venues for and invested heavily in, taking a loan against his own house. There clearly isn’t a solid contract put in place here and he takes her at her word, rather than an iron-clad contract. She turns on him, pulls out and his life starts to spiral out of control. In business, get the signature & cover yourself.
Bricks & mortar aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The building Barnum has gets burned down and he doesn’t have enough money to rebuild it. Instead, he gets a tent to erect on cheap land from down near the docks. The tent can easily be moved and it significantly cheaper than a physical building. This is true in today’s world as well. We don’t need to rent a shop to have a business, we can do it online, or via a pop-up shop or a Christmas market stall. You can also earn a living from home or working from a laptop in a coffee shop.
Be sure to save. The only reason that the show can continue is that Phillip Carlyle takes his cut from the business every week. He takes that money and reinvests it into what he knows works, entering into a 50/50 partnership rather than the 90/10 deal they had previously. Taking a little bit away from your paycheque or salary every month can help build up an emergency fund, or savings for that rainy day.
Now go & watch the film, sing along to the soundtrack and be inspired by the greatest show that the world has ever seen.