Looking for Regional Information?

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Willy Wonka

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Entrepreneur
What can you learn about business from a children's movie? You can learn some great entrepreneurial lessons from the recent film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp.

WARNING -Spoiler Alert- If you have not seen the movie (or the older version) yet, this article may give away a few elements of the story that could reduce your enjoyment of the film. You can always come back and read it after you have seen the picture.


"Find 1 of 5 Golden Tickets in a Willy Wonka product and be one of the first people in a long time to visit the magical chocolate factory. Also, one kid will win a special prize that will exceed your wildest imagination."

This is an excellent promotion. It sparks interest in Willy Wonka products, builds brand awareness, and most importantly; it significantly increases sales. The media picks up on the promotion and generates a tremendous amount of free publicity. Word of mouth referrals help spread the promotion to areas that were untouched by newspapers and television.

Positive Thinking

There are many "naysayers" who discourage the main character, Charlie, from getting his hopes up about finding one of the lucky Golden tickets. Negative thinking can be devastating, especially to a child. However, Charlie does not take heed of the negativity. Supported by his Grandmother's constant reassurance, Charlie keeps a positive outlook and believes that he has as good a chance as any other kid to find one of the five tickets.

Don't Quit

Charlie refuses to give up on his dream of finding a ticket. After he doesn't find one on his first, and probably only, attempt - he doesn't quit. Charlie believes that he will get one of those tickets. Providence provides two more opportunities and amazingly, Charlie finds the last ticket! This is especially significant because it had been falsely reported that all of the tickets had been found.

A Good Support Network

Charlie has an excellent support network. Although very poor in financial terms, Charlie is very rich in family. He lives in a loving environment and appreciates every member of his household. He selflessly offers to sell his ticket to provide some much needed cash for his family, instead of taking the special chocolate factory tour. His family will have nothing of it and encourages him to pursue this once in a lifetime opportunity.

When Willy Wonka offers to make Charlie his heir, Charlie refuses because accepting the offer would mean that he probably would never see his family again. Willy Wonka later makes the offer again, but allows Charlie to bring his family this time. Charlie's family then extends its hospitality to Mr. Wonka and he ends up gaining the positive and supporting network that he had needed as well.

Four Good Lessons

If you are an entrepreneur or are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, remember these lessons from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". It takes good marketing, positive thinking, and a good support network to get started. Most importantly, don't quit - your success may be only one candy bar away. function SubmitRating(btn) { ratingchecked = false; if (btn.form.aRating0.checked) ratingchecked = true; if (btn.form.aRating1.checked) ratingchecked = true; if (btn.form.aRating2.checked) ratingchecked = true; if (btn.form.aRating3.checked) ratingchecked = true; if (btn.form.aRating4.checked) ratingchecked = true; if (ratingchecked) { btn.form.btnRating.value=btn.value; btn.form.submit(); } else { alert("Be sure a rating value has been selected to continue."); } }