You may know The Wolf of Wall Street by the risqué stories from the book or because of the leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, in the movie, but have you given much consideration to the real business lessons found by paying attention to the main character, Jordan Belfort? When you examine with a more critical eye, there are numerous tactics, strategies, and methods of doing business – and doing business well – to be learned from The Wolf of Wall Street.

  1. Simplify your style. Jordan Belfort was able to develop a successful team from largely uneducated and inexperienced individuals because he used a simplified style. His directions were clear and direct.
  2. Know your audience. Belfort understood his investors, and knew which kinds of stocks would attract their attention. When you develop a clear understanding of who your audience is and what their needs are, you can develop a clear strategy for meeting their needs.
  3. Set clear goals for yourself. Just like Belfort knew he wanted to get rich, you need to know what you want from your business. The more specific you can be, the greater the likelihood that you will reach your goals. Separate your goals by both size and timelines (i.e. own 3 chain stores in 10 years). Outline the steps you believe you will need to make these goals into realities.
  4. Be your own best salesman. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Consider how your customers and clients perceive you – from what you wear to how you style (or don’t style) your hair, to how you shake hands and maintain eye contact during conversations. When you present yourself with confidence, even if a certain measure of it is falsely contrived at first, others will see you as capable.
  5. Provide amazing training to your employees. Belfort was adept at training staff to sound as intelligent and capable as possible – even if their backgrounds were as plain as could be. Take the time to develop and implement a simple, logical, and succinct training program for your employees or contractors. This investment in your time and perhaps resources will come back to you multiple times in both saved money and time.
  6. Gather a loyal team. To run a successful business, develop a group of loyal team members who have the common goal of helping you achieve your business goals. This is done in part by the amazing training, but also by treating your employees like they are irreplaceable.
  7. Keep trying. Jordan Belfort is a perfect example of imperfection. His small business went bankrupt – but that didn’t deter him. It just gave him the resolve to succeed on Wall Street.
  8. Don’t accept NO for an answer. Getting a “No” for an answer should not stop you, it should just tell you to find another way. So whether this is for gaining additional financing or signing contracts with suppliers, take a simple “No” and think of it as “No, not this way or time.” Then find the way, the time, and the source.
  9. Be real. So while Belfort didn’t exemplify this, he did demonstrate why you need to be authentic and remain on the “right side” of the line. Being real includes following laws and representing yourself and your business with integrity.
  10. Dream big – and look through a realistic lens. Perhaps the biggest lesson an entrepreneur can learn from The Wolf of Wall Street is that dreams are the sparks for business. And when you start looking for ways to make your dreams come true, use sound, honest, and responsible ways to make that happen.

The popular tale told in The Wolf of Wall Street is filled with business lessons for entrepreneurs. Some of the tactics that Belfort used are lessons for what to avoid, but the passion with which he chased his goals is something to embrace.