Five business tips from Tarantino: The sequel

Smarta caught up with founder - and massive Tarantino fan - Mitesh Soma to find out just what entrepreneurs can learn from the Pulp Fiction director.

1. Tarantino: "I have learned a lot from others. At the same time, I can use my own experience to absorb from others, change it into something of my own, and present it with my own style. As a filmmaker, I must be open-minded, must study everything, and must be sensitive."

Tarantino has come under fire from a number of critics for 'borrowing' excessively from other film-makers. But this is a skill in itself: taking the best from a whole series of genres and directors to create box office smashes. Don't be afraid to copy strategies that work, or cherry pick clever ideas from businesses you admire.

"Although we're an online chemist, customers value receiving personal advice when making medicinal purchases," says Soma, whose online pharmacy turned over £4m last year.

"This is why we've kept the traditional element of a high street pharmacy and have fully qualified pharmacists who are available to discuss symptoms and issues about medical problems with customers. If something works, there's no reason not to do it."

2. "The good ideas will survive."

If you have faith in your product or service, other people will too. Passion and determination go a long way in business - and in the film industry.

Tarantino has often come under fire for his risqué handling of sensitive subject matter: for example, his use of African American slang in Jackie Brown. Fellow director Spike Lee criticised Tarantino's dialogue, asking, "What does he want? To be made an honorary black man?" But the film was released to critical acclaim, and nominated for a host of awards. The lesson: if your idea could change a marketplace or challenge an incumbent, persist. Cream always rises to the top.

"We shook up the market when we launched and had some aggressive attempts to blow us off course from the odd supplier and high street rivals," says's Soma. "We could have packed up. But we stuck to our guns and had faith what we stood for, and once enough people begin to believe in you, it's hard for the critics to shut you down."

3. "I don't believe in elitism. I don't think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience."

Never, ever underestimate people in business. Whether it's a customer, competitor or supplier, make sure that you treat them with kindness and respect. Patronise at your peril.

Mitesh Soma agrees. "Respect your customers, whatever you are selling," he says. "Without them, you wouldn't have a business. Remember Gerald Ratner and the 'total crap' his company sold? His customers weren't impressed. It wiped almost £500 million from the company's value and nearly brought about its complete collapse.

"If we ever have a customer who is unhappy, we make sure we reply personally and if need be, refund them. It pays to go that extra mile."

4. "I want to do a Mandarin language movie. It'll probably be the next movie I do after the one I do next."

China is the fastest growing economy in the world. If you are in the export/import business, you cannot discount this economic powerhouse. Tarantino not only admires Chinese directors and styles of film-making, he is also planning to target the Chinese lucrative cinema industry by releasing a movie in Mandarin.

"Why stop with China?" asks Soma. "Check out other countries too where the expertise can be hired for less cost. Much of our IT system is based in Mumbai. They are at the top of their game and far cheaper than using UK experts. Look beyond your doorstep and always scope the world for where the best are. It could save you millions."

5. "If I couldn't make it as good as thought it should be then I would have just not done it."

As soon as you realise that your business is not going to fly, cut your losses and get out. Don't haemorrhage time and money into a losing venture. Tarantino is a perfectionist and has been known to abandon scripts for months, even years when they are not up to par. Serial entrepreneur and investor Robin Klein has a similar piece of advice for business owners: "Fail often and fail fast," is his motto.

Chemist Direct's Soma says: "Many entrepreneurs have a host of false starts when it comes to business ideas. The trick is to know when to throw the towel in and move on. Eventually you'll hit upon a winner."

Did you miss the prequel? Check out these top five tips from Tarantino.

Picture source: Roman Pinzon-Soto

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