Lessons from Scarlett: The Original Female Entrepreneur

I think if you've been a survivor of any sort, you can relate to Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. Sure, she used her womanly wiles to get what she wanted, but hey… who hasn't? (And men, you've got 'wiles' of your own, so don't think you're off the hook.)

When Scarlett tore down her mother's green velvet drapes to make the dress that ultimately saved Tara from the tax collectors, it was 'necessity is the mother of invention' in action. It's sheer ingenuity to look at those curtains, one of the only things left by the Yankees, and see a fancy dress that could be the solution to her problem.

Scarlett was smart, savvy and had the spitfire spirit of her successful entreprenuerial-minded immigrant father. Over and over, Scarlett relies on her wits to maneuver her way out of predicament after predicament. And maybe some of her actions weren't those of a lady playing nice (like marrying her sister's beau) – but to her, the end result always justified her behavior. She took care of herself and her 'folk' with no apologies – and she made riches from it.

So, how does Scarlett's smart and savvy personality relate to your business?

Your biggest client decides to quit working with you, for no apparent reason, leaving you with a huge in^come hole to fill. Your shopping cart bills your customers three times for a single purchase. Your virtual assistant decides to fly off for a spur-of-the-moment week away, leaving you with hours of admin nightmare to deal with.

There isn't a businessowner around who hasn't been surprised by these or similar challenges once they've been in business for awhile.

Yes, it would be nice to be prepared for all of our worst-case-scenarios with back-up procedures and the like, but please… especially if you're the creative/idea type – who's going to deal with all that detail for the 'just in cases'? Not me…

When Scarlett turned that green velvet from drapery to dress, my heroine didn't know she was carrying out a perfect example of exactly how to zig-zag your way very quickly from problem to solution:

Here's how:

1. She stayed focused

Scarlett didn't let herself get all spun up about only having one dirty dress to wear, picking cotton herself, or having no food to eat during the war that was going on around her. What she did was stay focused on the task at hand: saving Tara.

All the decisions she made and actions she took came from focusing on that single goal.

2. She quickly shifted priorities when necessary

Scarlett's mantra of "I can't think about that now. I'll think about it tomorrow" kept her focused and on task, and allowed her to shift her priorities when necessary.

3. She was willing to fail quickly

Scarlett made a decision and took action. If things didn't work out the way she wanted them to, she took stock, made another decision quickly, and took action again. By being willing to fail quickly, instead of trying to figure out and manage all the potential pitfalls beforehand, she was able to rebuild her life on her terms much more quickly.

4. She was open to receiving

So maybe marrying two gentlemen she wasn't in love with for all the wrong reasons doesn't speak well of her heart, but Scarlett saw both marriages as a solution to a current predicament.

She wanted to stay close to Ashley Wilkes so she married his brother-in-law. She wanted $300 to pay the taxes on Tara to keep it, so she married her sister's beau to get it. She wanted the store and mill to make more mo*ney, so she did business with those who were willing and able to pay, even if it was with the Yankees and carpetbaggers.

5. She didn't let anyone stop her

Whenever Mammy protested Scarlett's plans, Scarlett persisted. When her sisters protested her behavior with her gentleman callers, she persisted. When she wanted to hire convicts as laborers for the mill, and both the men in her life told her it was wrong, she did it anyway.

If you know that a solution you've figured out is right for you, don't let anyone talk you out of it. Even if it doesn't work out, at least you know you stuck to your guns and your integrity to yourself is intact.

And lest you think I'm blind to some of the deeper layers of Miss Scarlett, let me assure you that no one is more satisfied than I when Rhett tells her, "Frankly, my darling, I don't give a damn."

And yet you can't argue with her results.

I'd love to know what you think… please leave your comments below.

About the author:  Alicia M Forest, MBA, 6-Figure Business Breakthrough Mentor, teaches self-employed professionals how to attract more clients, create profit-making products and services, make more sales, and ultimately live the life they desire and deserve. For FREE tips on how to create wild abundance in your business, visit http://www.ClientAbundance.com


  1. Alicia
    You and Scarlett have reminded us of what to do and how to act in a crisis.
    There is a tendency sometimes to put more time and energy into discussing who’s at fault, who can we blame rather than just dealing with the problem, finding the solution and sorting it out. It’s easier to point the finger at someone – or something – else and find excuses a-plenty for why our business isn’t working but in my view, that mindset comes from lack of confidence in yourself or belief in your business.
    I’m reminded of a question Ali Campbell asked in his interview with Michael Neill – What would you do if you didn’t know better?
    I suspect that’s how Scarlett operated, getting on and doing it before talking herself out of action.
    Thanks for this, I shall have to add ‘Gone with the Wind’ to my business development tool box!

  2. The (business) lessons drawn from this classic movie speak highly of your own focus and creative resourceful thinking. Thanks.
    My own focus in coaching is working with women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. Your fifth point, “If you know a solution is right for you, don’t let anyone talk you out of it…your integrity to yourself intact” is exactly the message I want my clients to hear and hold. I will save and share your insights. Great lessons can be used in many situations.

  3. Alicia,
    I totally agree with these steps for success, and they are all equally important. Sometimes the progress seems slow going but never giving up keeps us moving forward.
    Jane Morrison

  4. Alicia,
    This has been my favorite movie since I was a pre-teen and I have many times over the years let Scarlett’s words pass through my head when I have been in a certain situation. Where some think she is too bold and uncaring, she always had a way of motivating me to use my potential. Thanks for the great re-cap!

  5. Like Donna, this is one of my fav movies. I just love how strategic Scarlett was in all her business dealings. In a time when women were not allowed to operate a business, Scarlett did whatever she could so she would never be hungry again.
    I often remind myself that as an entrepreneur, I have to shift, fail and bounce back to achieve success. The failing part is super scary, especially when time and money is involved. But I’d prefer to try and fail, then not to try at all.
    Thanks for highlighting the business lessons from Gone With the Wind.

  6. Alicia,
    Not only did you show us the valuable business and life lessons to be learned from Gone With the Wind’s character Scarlet O’Hara, you also showed us that we can learn from everything in life. Most people consider watching a movie just that sitting back mindlessly and being entertained, but your article shows that valuable lessons present themselves to us from every direction.
    Thank you


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