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Tom Sarig's favorite image of Joy, the movie

© Twentieth Century Fox

About 80% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months of taking off–and that’s just in America. Such odds are likely uninspiring for budding entrepreneurs; yet, year after year, people with great ideas continue to put them into action, and those with enough tenacity (and a touch of luck) to fuel a dream see positive results. The truths of this principle were no different over 20 years ago, when New York City native, Joy Mangano, acquired success as an inventor turned business owner who went on to build an empire.

In 20th Century Fox’s biopic of Mangano’s life, appropriately and ironically entitled Joy, audiences get to experience this firsthand. The movie stars Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence as Joy, alongside her Silver Lining’s Playbook castmates, Bradley Cooper and Robert Deniro, and expertly details the highs and lows of striving to reach success as an entrepreneur. The importance of the movie, which inspired this blog, is that it highlights every facet of the very real struggle in creating something out of nothing as an entrepreneur. Here are some lessons from the movie that every business owner, aspiring or established, need to know *Warning: the content below may contain a few spoilers*:


1. Think Outside The Box

The Miracle Mop, Joy’s invention and the centerpiece of the film, was born from a real life problem: trying to clean a spill with broken glass, without getting cut while ringing out the mop. Mangano probably wasn’t the first to experience such a dilemma, but, unlike others, she realized that there could be a solution (a skill in itself), then proceeded to create it. Hours of drawing and redrawing the prototype, getting inspiration from her child’s doll’s hair, and innate creativity enabled joy to bring the vision to life, despite the lack of precedent for such a product. Mangano’s ability to think beyond the confines of possibility around her is undeniably one of the major contributors to her success and the mark of a true entrepreneur

2. Have Confidence In Yourself

Not everyone believed in Joy, the movie is clear about that. Outside of her grandmother, ex-husband, and bestfriend, everyone else thought she was delusional and in over her head. Nevertheless, she continued to invest time, energy, and money into creating the Miracle Mop. Such confidence in her ability to succeed drove her to obtain multiple loans from her father’s girlfriend, and going as far as taking a second mortgage on her house. Every entrepreneur must possess that same confidence in their idea. No one else will.

3. Fight For Your Dream

In addition to the dysfunction of her early days, Joy continued to experience setbacks after the product’s launch, including bankruptcy, betrayal from her sister, and being ripped off more than once by manufacturers. All of that is enough for anyone to want to give up. Needless to say, Joy did not, despite being tempted to do so. Instead, she fought harder, traveling from coast to coast, and even getting arrested in the process. That level of determination and willingness to do whatever it takes, makes all the difference.

4. Always Look For New Opportunities

Even after Joy got her big break, selling thousands of mops within an hour on QVC, she continued to expand her brand. Mangano secured more funding and increased production, and eventually turned her product into a company. Doing so, Joy achieved significant success, and when the time was right, she sold the company and became even more prosperous.

5. Never Stop Creating

Though the movie is about the success of her miracle mop, Joy didn’t rest on her laurels with that invention alone. The magnate is said to have over 100 patents to various inventions, and a list of awards and accomplishments as a result. Today, her estimated net worth is around $50 million, and we probably haven’t seen the last of her.

The moral of the story is an inspiring one, perfect for this time of year in which resolutions will be made and individuals vow to try new things in the New Year. In that way, Joy should be seen by all audiences, as it is likely that many can learn at least one of its lessons. Nevertheless, the film was practically made for those with an idea and enough insanity to pursue it. Dr. Seuss once warned that “being crazy isn’t enough;” he was right, one needs to be relentlessly focused, passionate and utterly ravenous as well.