10 things Entrepreneurs can learn from watching Ghostbusters: Top Ten Family Finance Posts #6

Ghost Busters (Ghostbusters)

Ghost Busters (Ghostbusters) (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

The movie that taught us to answer “Yes” when asked if “You’re a god,” is more than just an 80’s comedy masterpiece. It’s more than the catalyst for the lawsuit between Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr. over the similarities between the Ghostbusters theme song and “I Want a New Drug.” Deep within the deadpan, slapstick and one-liners is a treasure trove of real-life entrepreneurial lessons.

Here are ten lessons to be learned from Ghostbusters from off the top of my head.

10. You Can’t Sell Technology If You Don’t Commercialize a Product

“Based on these new readings, I think we have an excellent chance of actually catching a ghost and holding it indefinitely.”

Xerox is a corporation famous for missing the boat when it comes to commercializing technology. They were the first to invent the mouse for the computer, but failed to realize its commercial value. The same goes for operating systems with a graphic interface (Microsoft would later sell millions of copies of windows).

The ghostbusters had breakthrough technology, the ability to catch ghosts, and had the business sense to commercialize that technology to make money.

9. Entrepreneurs Need to Risk Capital

“You’re not going to lose the house. Everybody has three mortgages these days.”

If you want to make money, you’ve got to accept a great deal of risk. It’s the hours of time devoted to developing a product that fails or the home that you’ve mortgaged for startup capital. If you are smart, you can minimize some of these risks, but rarely will you be able to avoid them. The important thing to remember is that with great risk, there ought to be great opportunity for profit. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.

8. Long-Term Business Strategy

The franchise rights alone will make us wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.


The Stanz, Venkman and Spengler didn’t just create the Ghostbusters with a dollar and a dream. They actually had a valid, long-term business strategy in franchising. Honestly, it’s a solid business model for what they are doing.

Franchising is actually a great idea for ghostbusting. Obviously, it would have been hard to create ghostbusters in every major city, without lots of time and money. By franchising, they can sell their technology and name to other investors for an easy profit. Best of all, their technology is so specialized they probably also could make a decent penny building and repairing ghostbusting equipment. Not to mention charge fees on ghost containment.

It’s a brilliant business strategy for the boys in gray.

7. Make The Best With What You’ve Got

We’re trying to keep our costs down.  You know how it is when you’re starting a new company.

Guess what? Your biggest enemy when starting a new business is cost. So if the best price is an abandoned, rundown old fire hall with an inadequate power source, you need to make do with what you have.

6. Luck: The Right Product at the Right Time

Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area.  According to this morning’s PKE sample, the current level in the city would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

Luck often plays an important role in the success of a business. The Ghostbusters didn’t realize when they started their venture that ghostbusting was about to be a boom business thanks to the timely merging of another dimension in the coming wake of Gozer. They opened shop just in time to catch a “fourfold crossover.”

5. Setting a Price

That’ll be $4,000 for the entrapment plus $1,000 for proton recharge and storage.

Setting a price isn’t easy, especially when you have a product no one has bought before. You need to make sure that it fits within the limits of what consumers are willing to pay. Luckily, Peter Venkman was a good negotiator and slimer was a pest worthy of 5 big ones to exterminate.

4. Cope with Rapid Growth

Do you believe in U.F.O.’s, astral projection, mental telepathy, ESP,clairvoyance, spirit photography, full-trance mediums, telekinetic movement,black and/or white magic,
pyramidology, the theory of Atlantis,the Loch Ness Monster,or in general in spooks,spectres, wraiths,geists and ghosts?

Sometimes success is a curse. Having an in-demand product means rapid growth and entrepreneurs need to be ready for long hours and hiring dependable employees that can grow and adapt to the business needs.

3. Government Regulation is a Barrier

Frankly, there have been a lot of wild stories in the media and we want to assess any possible environmental impact from your operation. For instance, the storage of noxious, possibly hazardous waste materials in your basement. 

I’m not trying to make a political point with this one, but regulation equals costs for the entrepreneur. Where there is the EPA investigating environmental impacts, you’ll be paying a lawyer to protect your business.

2. Going around Laws Can Cause Trouble Down the Road

Sure.  Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on our back.  No problem.

As the Ghostbusters learn later, their technology skirt more than a few laws. It would later mean temporary closure of their business and a trip to prison.

1. Innovate to Deliver New Products

No!  You said crossing the beams would be BAD.  It’ll kill her!  And us!

Running a business long-term often means constant innovation, so when you’ve got a ghost like Gozer who is impervious to your ghostbusting technology, it’s time to try new methods or face going out of business (or death if you are a ghostbuster).

Top Ten Family Finance Posts

Blogging has been settling back to the old routine now that my busy month has ended. Please be sure to check out my series on buying a home versus renting. I’ve tried to cover some of the important aspects most other blogs miss.

Also, please check out my other site The Family Consumer. I haven’t been able to devote much time to it with the busy schedule, but now I’m hoping to get regular content up every week. The site focuses on issues pertaining to family consumers.

  1. Derek is looking for headroom and a good deal on a new car. Most importantly, he’s looking to buy the car with cash and you should too.
  2. I smell a rat and so does Kurt of My Money Counselor. Kurt has the scoop on how easy it is to report your neighbors to the IRS.
  3. Simple Finance deals with the great tax debate: donate or sell. Can you tell that taxes are due on Monday?
  4. Another year of employment; another raise to manage. Erin debates the best use of her recent pay raise. Once again, sending a payment to Smart Family Finance was not on the list. Maybe next year?
  5. Transportation is the second largest expense for the average American family. Money Principle adds up the costs of car ownership and offers a money saving alternative that, for once, isn’t riding your bike everywhere.
  6. How does flying a kite save you money? Dr. Burke gives explains for the layman, while sending me into a chorus of the memorable Marry Poppins tune.
  7. SB forgot pictures of my children, but did cover my wife’s business card for her new private music lesson studio. Aside from that, he knows exactly what should be in everyone’s wallet.
  8. The best deal on a phone is not always the discount that comes with your phone plan. Now if Jeremiah could only tell me how to get a data plan for free, I may buy a smart phone yet (aka the only way Mrs. Smart Family Finance is going to let me get one).
  9. Modest money is so totally making the case for my ten-year-old t-shirts and ripped jeans for me. I only hope that my wife reads.
  10. While we are on the topic of cool things about your job; mine has its own open bar, fully stocked; of course. All for employees and lucky guests.

That’s it for this week. Please read Smart Family Finance every day!

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