During the 90′s, professional wrestling was booming and ratings were up for the WWF and WCW, the world’s top two professional wrestling organizations. Good ratings mean more revenue. Business was good and for the most part, these two organizations were happy with the overall state of professional wrestling. These two organizations made several intelligent business decisions which I think a number of entrepreneurs can learn from.
5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Professional Wrestling of the 90′s
1) Competition is good – I think this one has to be number one on this list. The intense war that stemmed from the “Monday Night Wars” of the 90′s was the best thing that could have happened to either organization. Competition brings the absolute best out in people! It’s human nature to not want to be “outdone,” so to speak. The WCW and WWF (now WWE) gave everything they had a week in and week out in order to be the superior. Hijacking a Zamboni!? These two millionaire business moguls in Vince McMahon and Ted Turner threw haymakers at each other that were made for the boxing ring. Now, if WCW did not exist, do you think Vince McMahon would have felt nearly as compelled to crash beer trucks into the arena and pull out absolutely everything from the trick bag he could come up with it? The answer is no. He did it because the competition that WCW presented to his business and a person’s business is like their family, they will do everything to protect it. Entrepreneurs should not be threatened by the competition, they should embrace it. I don’t mean you should send your clients over to your competitor for coffee, but don’t feel threatened. Focus on your business and how you can the best. It may seem odd, but professional wrestling of the 90′s clearly demonstrated that competition is good for business.
2) You have to be innovative– One thing that the WWF and the WCW did during the 90′s is constantly creating developing storylines that kept television viewers interested week after week. They never allowed things to get stale. They were innovative. As an entrepreneur, constantly evolving and finding new ways to be more efficient or things that can benefit your business is crucial to long-term success. If you stay stuck in your ways and don’t bother to continue learning, your business will most definitely suffer at some point from a lack of innovation as you watch your competitor fly by. The WWF especially had an incredible amount of constantly innovative storylines. They once literally “attacked” the building in which the WCW was holding an event that evening! Vince Mcmahon continued to learn and develop ways to improve ratings and draw more business. Lack of innovation probably contributed to the demise of the WCW. They tried using the NWO angle, which was successful for a while, over and over and over again. People need new stuff! Yes, it worked at one time, but it stopped working. Had WCW continued to be innovative with their storylines, maybe they wouldn’t have gone downhill.
3) Charisma can go a long way – Charisma in professional wrestling is crucial. During the 90′s, pro wrestling was loaded with charismatic performers. From Shawn Michaels to Bret Hart, from the Rock to Steve Austin, and the list goes on. These incredibly charismatic men had a huge impact on the growth of professional wrestling in the 90′s. The thing is, charisma can have a huge impact on business dealings too. Trying to land a big deal? Chances are you are more likely to land it if the people actually like you! Well, people like charisma. Charisma is a natural draw for human beings regardless of what “ring” you are in. Whether you are trying to win fans or win over your client, charisma can go a long way.
4) Branding is everything – The branding done by Vince Mcmahon during the “attitude era” was downright brilliant. Ted Turner, Eric Bischoff, and WCW had their moments too, but Vince branded the WWF nearly perfect. Branding can not only apply to your business, it can apply to you. Branding yourself in a certain light can most definitely help your entrepreneurial career. The WWF in the 90′s branded itself as the organization that was going to bring you entertainment no matter what means were necessary. Gigantic steel cages? No problem. Invading other arenas? Not an issue. Driving beer trucks into the stadium and having wrestlers pound beers in the ring? No big deal. The branding was great and people started becoming loyal to the WWF, eventually writing off the WCW. If you can brand yourself and your business correctly, you can create customers for life at times. Branding in some cases can mean the difference between success and failure.
5) Have fun – Wait, what? Have fun? In Business? Huh? Yes, hear me out. I think part of the reason that professional wrestling in the 90′s was so successful is because it was fun. Everything about it was fun. Stone Cold Steve Austin drinking beers while Degeneration X was downright hilarious at times. People continued to tune in because they enjoyed it. I don’t care what you are referring to, people like to have fun! They like to laugh! I’m not saying you drive over to your clients office with a 12 pack like Steve Austin may have, but have fun with being an entrepreneur and it will radiate out to those you encounter. As with charisma, a person is much more likely to do business with you if they enjoy their conversations with you. Not to mention having fun for your own sanity. In other words, have fun and try to enjoy your business endeavors, life is too short!
The business of professional wrestling was definitely booming in the 90′s. A lot of smart decisions were made by the leaders of the companies and it resulted in an incredible amount of industry growth. I enjoy identifying the traits of any successful business and it was clear that some very savvy business decisions were made in the 90′s. This is the part where I talk about Vince Mcmahon being “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be,” except he went and started the XFL….. so he ruined that.