Entrepreneurship Lessons by Kinky Boots

Published to Medium on  - 4 minute read

I have had the pleasure to watch the Kinky Boots Show last night, and it was surely an amazing experience in and of itself, but also one of pure talent, joy, emotions, and brevity, all combined in a well-played story. It's been a while since I have enjoyed a show like this, but for me, the most captivating element in the story was the entrepreneurship involved.

As you should watch it yourself and without taking away the pleasure of anticipation, the story is about a young man named Charlie who inherited a soon-to-be bankrupt shoe factory. Throughout the story, Charlie works to save it by pivoting the factory’s effort to making boots for drag queens instead of shoes, with the inspiration of the divine Lola/Simon.

Here are 10 quick lessons of entrepreneurship, inspired by Kinky Boots:

1. Professionalism

Know your work, own your domain, and be professional in what you do. While it may seem rather basic, it goes without saying that if you don’t know your field, you have no idea what you are talking about. Charlie was a 5th generation shoe maker. He grew up in the factory, and when his dad passed away, he worked to continue his legacy. Knowing “how to make shoes” should be your world, if that's the world you’re aiming to disrupt.

2. Recognize the opportunity

Credit: Kinky Boots London Cast. Photography by Matt Crockett.

As a professional in your field, you'll cross a lot of opportunities, but that doesn't always mean that you are really seeing them. You can try and look for them, but they will almost always hit you in the most unexpected situation. In Charlie’s case, it was in a dark alley that he was hit by a drag queen. Pay attention and keep your mind open, because once the opportunity arrives and you take advantage of it, it will feel like you're on a rocket.

3. Niche market

A niche market is the subset of a larger market in which a specific product is focused. Recognizing a niche market is like finding a strip of gold in the depths of the earth. Now, all you have to do is find the way to reach it.

4. MVP

You should see Charlie’s face when he holds his first drag queen boot - Great excitement mixed with tremendous pride. It will be a glorious moment in your start-up life when you will hold your minimum value product (MVP). And yet, do not rest on your laurels, as this is just the start. Now, become proactive in seeking feedback on your idea, and always be prepared for negative feedback at first; this is simply how you build your new endeavour.

5. Product market fit

One of the most frustrating parts in the start-up journey is the process where you are changing and actively altering your product based on market needs. The Kinky Boots’ plot becomes very interesting and amusing, as the characters are all trying to find the perfect fit between the concept of the product and the target market. When you finally reach the golden point of the product market fit – you know you hit the jackpot. This is the stage in the start-up process where the product fits and is designed to perfectly fulfil a need in the target market. Be patient and hold tight, as this process is frustrating and can be quite tedious and time-consuming.

6. Your teammate

Credit: Kinky Boots London Cast. Photography by Matt Crockett.

You must have a teammate, or a co-founder/s. You need someone who is specialized and highly-talented in a domain that you are not. You need someone who can see the dream the way that you do and has the dedication and the will to execute that idea, no less than you. Charlie and Simon/Lola are both representing two edges of the scale. Charlie comes from an old fashioned and conservative small town in the UK, and Lola who is a drag queen in London, offers a new-age, modern, and open-minded approach. As performed with talent at the show, you can have disagreements, arguments, and differences, but the important thing is that you both work to complement each other.

7. The team

In start-ups, everything is about execution. You can have an amazing idea, but without good execution, you'll not be able to move even a flip-flop. An excellent start-up is based on an excellent team. Those are not just “regular employees;” in fact, those are the heart and soul of the execution process itself. The factory’s team was like one big family; always working together, but also putting the good of the factory before their own personal good, and when the “shit hit the fan,” they even sacrificed their personal time and resources. You need a team of dedicated, caring, and connected individuals who are passionate about the idea and believe in their founder/s no matter what.

Credit: Kinky Boots London Cast. Photography by Matt Crockett.

8. Perfection

It was admirable watching Charlie put everything he had into producing the perfect boots. And sometimes, that almost came with the cost of losing his team. You, the entrepreneur, are the only one who really knows how your idea should look, feel, smell, and taste. You are the only one who knows just how to gauge perfection. You should always strive to produce that perfect product in line with the vision that you have in your mind and never stop trying until you reach perfection.

9. Be yourself

"Be yourself, everybody else is already taken," said Oscar Wilde. And as Lola asked - "Accept the other as they are".

10. Power baby, power

Credit: Kinky Boots London Cast. Photography by Matt Crockett.

The overall power of a space shuttle at take-off is about 12 GW, or 12 billion watts of power. That is about 16 million horsepower!

However, in order to make the impossible possible, in order to change the world for yourself and for others, in order to make dreams come true... It takes only the will of a single heart; an entrepreneur’s heart.

You will understand this, especially when you get to the final act.

Enjoy the show!

Jonathan


Recommended articles