How Can The King’s Speech Help You Build an Extraordinary Online Business?

image from the movie The Kings Speech

This year’s big Oscar winner was The King’s Speech, taking awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Direction, and Best Writing (original screenplay).

When I saw the movie a few weeks ago, I was certainly inspired by the heartwarming tale of a man with a speech impediment finding his true voice.

But, as a solo entrepreneur, I was also moved by the way Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) runs his business.

This character is quite clearly doing work he loves on his own terms, providing an invaluable service to his customers, and having great success at it. One of the main reasons I started an online business was to do just that. If you’re running an online business and reading Copyblogger, I’ll bet you have the same desires.

So what can we learn from Lionel Logue?

Provide quality without compromise

Throughout his work with the soon-to-be king (known as Bertie), Lionel shows absolute confidence in his approaches, even though his methods are unorthodox and continually called into question. He isn’t willing to compromise because he knows he’s offering effective, top-notch services.

As online entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get caught up in grabbing sales just for the sake of sales. If that means diluting the quality of your offerings to pander to the masses, why not?

Well, because in the long run, this technique will fail. No repeat customers. No glowing word-of-mouth recommendations.

Your reputation is everything, and that’s even more true in the social-media-connected world. So get absolutely clear and confident that you’re offering something of extraordinary value, and don’t compromise.

Let ‘em go

In their first meeting, Bertie is frustrated by Lionel’s unusual techniques. So much so, that Bertie eventually loses his temper and leaves the meeting.

Lionel doesn’t beg him to stay. And he doesn’t harass him with follow-up offers in the coming days. It doesn’t take long for Bertie to realize that Lionel was offering something unique that could be the only answer to his problems, and he comes back to continue the work.

It’s easy to panic when you see unsubscribes from your newsletter, or a dip in blog traffic. There is a temptation to cling to these people for dear life and try to force them back into your fold.

Resist the temptation and let them go. Have faith in the good work you are doing. (If you’re not doing good work, revisit the first point.)

Keep delivering extraordinary value and find the people who are a better fit for what you offer. Don’t waste your energy and talent trying to work with the wrong people.

Make it personal

One of the most important aspects of Lionel’s approach to speech therapy is connecting to his clients on a personal, emotional level. He strives to create an environment where he and his clients are equals, and he works to understand the emotional history of his client’s problems. Bertie’s major breakthroughs come as a direct result of this approach.

When you’re running an online business, your potential clients won’t know you as a flesh and blood human being unless you make that a priority.

Find ways to connect with your audience and customers on a personal level. You might do this by sharing a personal story in a blog post or creating a video that showcases your quirks. Use venues like Twitter and Facebook to show your “after hours” side.

It’s even more important that you take time to understand who your potential buyers are on a personal level.

What makes them tick? What are their fears and desires? Why on earth do they want what you’re selling?

No, you don’t have to share every detail of your life on Twitter. (In fact, please don’t.) But social media gives solo entrepreneurs and micro companies a huge advantage — the ability to showcase a personal approach that’s nothing like the usual drivel they hear from big corporations.

Results trump credentials

A slight spoiler alert here, but one of my favorite parts in the movie is finding out that Lionel isn’t a trained, licensed doctor.

At first, Bertie is upset by this. But when Lionel talks about his experience and his deep passion for what he does, Bertie knows that the credentials don’t really matter. Besides, he’s seen firsthand what Lionel can do. At the end of the day, results are far more important than credentials.

If you have sparkling credentials, that’s awesome. But they are no substitute for the quality of the goods and services you offer.

And if you happen to lack a long list of titles and certifications, don’t let that hold you back. Your experience and the results you can create for your customers are what truly matter.

The Bertie character in the film was certainly brave. But for me, the real hero was Lionel — the passionate, caring, capable businessman who helped his customer through a difficult time.

How about you? Have you seen these principles lived out in your own business? Let us know about it in the comments.

About the Author: Joy Tanksley believes your passions are your purpose. As a life coach, she helps women discover their true worth to lead lives that are authentic and deeply satisfying. You can visit her at


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Reader Comments (80)

  1. says


    Good post today. I must confess that I haven’t seen the King’s speech yet. I’m one of those people who waits until they come out to either the Blockbuster Express or Redbox machines. Then I can get it for $1.

    But you did give us food for thought today, for marketing to online customers and prospects.


  2. says

    Great post, Joy! I love your point about “letting ’em go.” When I first started out – I didn’t get that concept. Over the past year, it’s really clicked. Each of us has a set of talents. By trying to please everyone, we would just dilute our effectiveness. We must serve the people we can and not worry about everyone else. Thanks for a great post!

  3. says

    Rats. I was hoping “The Social Network” would have won. That way, this post would have been titled, “How to Become a Billionaire in Less Than Two Years.”


  4. says

    Great post, Joy. I love that movie for many reasons, not the least of which is the Lionel Logue story. Rush should have won the Oscar–but that’s another subject. Your analysis of the lessons online businesses can learn from Logue is brilliant. I wish I had written it myself.


  5. says

    Hi Joy,

    The thing that really jumped out at me was, “Results trump credentials.”

    I have been told so many times that a blog must have “Social Proof.”

    OK. So a lot of people like you. But do you produce real Results?

    What people say about You is only as good as what they say about what you Accomplish. That is the real Test, IMO.

    Do multitudes read and say, “that was great” ? Or, do those who read your words ACT on your advice?

    But most important of all, does acting on your advice further their goals?

    I really liked this a lot, Joy :-)


  6. Jena Casbon says

    As a Speech-Language Pathologist AND Internet marketer I’m so proud of you using The King’s Speech to discuss providing quality services to those in need!

  7. says

    I, too, loved the movie and Lionel’s approach in particular. Another aspect of it that stood out for me was Bertie’s wife. She did the initial footwork to find Lionel, and took the daring action of taking her husband along. Then, she had the patience and the confidence to bide her time, knowing her husband well enough that he would eventually “do the math,” while also knowing that he had to do it in his own time. As with Lionel, she demonstrated her insights and wisdom with her solid support on the journey. Many times as a coach and a mediator, I have to choose the moments in which to be each of these characters and I’m sure you all do, too.

    Great post, Joy! Thanks.

  8. Marshall Adler says


    Although I am not a woman I did find your guest post rather inspiring. I love how you used a little Prestige and the word Extraordinary to attract attention with your headline. It definitely drew me into your content. I am not particularly a big fan of movies like the one you described but I love how told us a story with hidden morals and lessons strategically placed throughout.

    Very good job and I will definitely let the women in my church group know about your services.

    Marshall Adler

  9. says

    I loved this movie and this article came at just the right time. The advice to let go of the unsubscribers and simply focus on the quality of my results is the best reminder I could have had today. Thank You.

  10. says

    I loved The King’s Speech! It was a classic case of fabulous story-telling, relying on the story and characters rather than special effects or sneaky twists. Great spoiler alert too. I’d forgotten about that bit!

    For me though, the biggest lesson in this film was the power of confident persistence. Geoffrey Rush’s character oozed quiet awesomeness. He wasn’t a show man and, like many of us I suspect, was fairly non-descript in his non-work environment. Even his own family didn’t seem to appreciate his brilliance until it literally came round for tea! How many of us can feel less than stupendous when the children are clamouring for attention? My husband can’t even describe to his colleagues in work what it is I do!

    But he kept on, confident in his own ability (which yes, ties in with your first point) with an unshakeable belief that ultimately served him very well indeed.

    Lovely post Joy :)

  11. Emily Wenstrom says

    Finally, a reason to apprecaite The King’s Speech — I’m a huge movie geek, but I didn’t enjoy this film at all. but you’re right, as an entreprenuer, there’s good reason to respect it. Or Lionel, at least.

  12. Jim Clark says

    It’s interesting how this movie resonated for so many. Here is the link to another author’s commentary that I also found good:

    The one thing I would also point out that is in neither of the articles is that in standing his ground for his methods, Lionel was not defensive or righteous about it — he was fully confident. He also deprecated the “royal” stories and traditions in a manner that decreased pressure on the King.

    • says

      Lots of hollywood movies contain great wisdom if you know where to look for it – that’s because they’re build on the paradigm of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

      Often the lessons are hidden beneath the ‘entertainment’ dimension that the film has to have. Kudos to Joy for finding a great lesson from this film.


  13. says

    Joy, you made a very candid post. I like your analogy. It leads me both to do well on my online writing niche and as well as watch the movie. Thank you.

  14. says

    Great post, Joy.

    We saw the movie on Saturday. It was fantastic.

    Watching Lionel do his thing reminded me

    I get to choose who I work with, and who I don’t work with.

    And, how I do it.

    I’m very confident in my abilities, so it’s not hard work for me. It’s not even hard to say no to someone…in the most recent case, an advertiser who just wasn’t a fit for me, and my business.

    I sleep well at night.

    The Franchise King®

    • says

      Thanks, Joel! Saying no used to be so difficult for me, but after nearly a year of running my own business, it’s starting to feel easy and authentic. And I, too, sleep well. It’s a beautiful thing, eh?

  15. says

    Great piece Joy! One of the best I’ve read. Loved the movie and loved how you related Logue’s practices to an entrepreneur’s world. Insightful, inspiring and passionate. Thanks!

  16. says

    There was a goof in the movie when it came to Lionel’s business. The movie goof is when Lionel refers to Bertie as a patient to his wife. He never thought of those he helped as patients, because as you say and later in the movie it is noted that Lionel isn’t a doctor. He thinks of himself as a teacher and refers to those he helps as pupils. I think this attitude is vastly different than how a doctor would view a situation. A doctor doesn’t teach, he hands out procedures, treatments, prescriptions. Lionel taught Bertie and showed Bertie how to overcome his stutter. I think that’s what makes Lionel so good and so approachable for Bertie.

  17. says

    A splendid film and some keen insights taken from it. Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, Joy. My friend Mark and I were talking the other day about “Walk-Away Power.” If a client, no matter how potentially lucrative or otherwise attractive, doesn’t believe in the value of what I do and in the initial, complimentary strategy session constantly pushes back about my age, or experience, or techniques, then I can just walk away. I believe this is one form of what Frank Kern calls “unselling.” You’re going to get my honesty, and that may mean telling you that your idea for the name for a gourmet grocery store is lackluster. If you were looking for a Kindergarten teacher to pat you on the head, then you called the wrong person. And I couldn’t in good conscience help you sabotage your business. Lionel knew his methods worked, and he wasn’t going to let someone else, no matter what title he held, question his expertise. That doesn’t mean taking no criticism or never admitting to being wrong. It means quite the opposite. An apology is what saved Lionel and Bertie’s relationship. To sum it all up, Walk-Away Power requires respect for my work, honesty, and a willingness to take responsibility for the times I mess up. It’s working well so far.

    • says

      Oh, HELL yes! I love the idea of “Walk-Away Power.” Brilliant.

      By the way, I actually thought about adding a fifth point along the lines of “know when to apologize” or “know when you’re wrong.” :)

      Thanks for adding this comment, Austin!

  18. says

    Yes, Austin, I believe in the authenticity and integrity of knowing who our ideal clients are and what we offer them. Like you, I believe people engage me for my perspective, expertise, experience and insights. That’s what they get. If they are ready to have their lives, relationships and businesses improve, and are willing to take effective action, it’s the right time for them and they have likely found the right person. If they are looking for babysitting, coddling and handholding, it’s best they move along!

  19. says

    Joy, thanks for the wonderful analysis of the film, and for the very well done article. “The King’s Speech” is really inspiring, and here are some of the things I learned from the movie: seeing from other angle. The most important of them for me was that we need to find our voice, because everybody has one, and not just to develop an ability, or overcome our fears but also for us to stand for ourselves in the life and business.

  20. says

    Hi Joy,

    Really enjoyed this post and yes, it hit home with me as well.

    Gosh I’ve learned so much since first starting online. What I was taught in the very beginning was “fake it until you make it” but I’ve never been able to do that. Since that time I’ve learned that you just need to be true to yourself, your readers, your prospects and your customers.

    Social proof comes from the comments you receive and how often your information is recommended by others. Being true to yourself, unique in your own way and keep your integrity is the way I prefer to go. Love the comparison even though I have not seen the movie.

    Thanks for sharing this! Really enjoyed reading this one, especially today!


  21. says

    Very insightful post.

    I love this: “At the end of the day, results are far more important than credentials.”

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  22. says

    it’s really true results really do seem to trump credentials.

    My wife is a content writer with no training and no writing degree but she is really good
    and people lover her work.

    Because of that fact she always has more business than she could possibly take on.

    So for her anyway results definitely trump her lack of credentials.

  23. says

    Great post and great film. Yes of course I’m biased cos it’s British, like me, but that’s not the point. Lionel does love his work and I think his sense of humour and fun also add to his success. Add that to his passion and conviction that his methods work and nothing can stop him succeeding. I must remind myself that sometime!

  24. says

    Hi Joy
    Thanks for your great comparison between Lionel and Internet Marketing.

    I think its important to be your self on your whole approach.
    I was taught to “Fake it till you make it” and that actually
    created quite a writing block for me, because I was always deadly afraid
    people should find out how little I really knew.

    Today I simply just write about what I hope
    will help others – even my mistakes. none of my
    readers have ever complained – quite the opposite in fact.

    And that makes it so much easy for me to write on my blog.

    My best advise is “stop chasing sales – Build a business you
    are proud of and a business you are passionated about.”.


  25. says

    Hi Joy,

    New reader here. Great post–simple, practical, and thoughtful advice wrapped around an inspiring movie. I’m so glad I found your blog.


    • says

      Thanks, Deborah! I’m just a guest here today. You should definitely keep reading! There’s a wealth of wonderful information on this blog!

  26. says

    Very inspiring post, Joy! I especially like the results trump credentials section. I find it fun that I’ve had several conversations on this subject and on credibility with people this week. Looks like the universe has brought me more evidence that it’s about what you can offer, not the labels attached to you. I also love the “let them go” part of the process. It relates to authenticity, which has been on my radar too. :)

  27. says

    Bending over backwards to please everyone is the best kind of recipe for committing yourself to a future as a crab-mimicking acrobat-cum-clown in a circus of neverending despair.

  28. says

    I am the Founder President of a small software company in Australia. I started after retirement, at the kitchen table, 15 years ago on a shoestring. Now it is OK, but at nearly 70 yrs of age, I am not quite with it in terms of all the new things in Social Media etc. However, my daughter (late 30’s) is a wizz at it and she forwarded me a link to this article, saying “This article reminded me of you and the way you work!”. After reading it, I am truly stunned by her insight. Most everything you say in it, rings true with me. Specially, (a) “Keep delivering extraordinary value and find the people who are a better fit for what you offer. Don’t waste your energy and talent on the wrong people” — I have been known to say to potential customers “Sorry, you can’t have my software, it is my baby, it needs a good home”, then close my laptop lid, and walk away from the demo. and (b) “Make it personal” — I have made so many personal friends of the CEO’s of my customer businesses that is the best return I have had. They recognize my passion and I value them as people. How many people will come to my funeral — many of them I hope (certainly not my bank manager nor the salesman who sold me my car!) there is the true value of a life well lived and a business well run. Bless you for your article and your analysis. Sunny

  29. says

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who drew these conclusions! I haven’t seen the film yet, but watched a documentary ‘The Real Kings Speech’ on C4 in the UK last weekend. And the next day I had the same thoughts as you.

    Setting up my own business (it’s will grow to be a mix of online business and consultative work) I’ve come across plenty of people who have advised me I need this qualification or that. I’ve stumbled into the trap of doing what I think I “should” be doing, but thankfully pulled myself back out before I’d invested too much time going in the direction perceived wisdom suggested I should.

    I know what I plan to do has worked for me before and delivered exceptional results. I am excited about doing something in a different way. What the awareness of Lionel Logue has done for me, over this past week, is given me the confidence to believe that I should keep doing the things the way I believe they should be done and not settle for anything less that developing a business with clients who I feel passionate about working with and who understand what I can offer and enjoy working with me.

  30. says

    I just watched this movie at Cinema with my friends last weekend, I just cant tell you how great was this movie. For people who haven’t watch it, go to the cinema now before too late. This is really an awesome movie!

  31. says

    We saw this movie this week after watching the Oscars. Great movie. It reminds me of how lazy I am thinking i have the skills and not doing anything about it. Now i’m going to start freelancing work by writing and getting gigs. Places like will help me get there. Thanks again for the post.

  32. says

    Congrats on this post! I’m a new subscriber to your blog and I find your insights refreshing and interesting. In fact, when I received this post, I had to laugh out loud. I had a similar reaction to yours when watching “The King’s Speech”. I, too, as an entrepreneur, was amazed that a small-time speech therapist would be willing to let a high-profile client go in order not to compromise his values and methods. And I, too, have always thought that real-life experience trumps anything one might learn at a university.

    So, again, congrats for putting this particular, fascinating and inspirational take on “The King’s Speech” into words!


  33. says

    Good one Joy! Lionel’s dedication to his methods along with his self-confidence which sprung from his success, is inspiring. What impressed me also, was the fact that he didn’t beg Bertie to come back. I think, he knew deep inside, that he would come back again, once he felt again desperate or listened to that disc of him talking. Now, this shows that top professionals are not only distinguished authorities in their niche by others, but they also believe 100% in themselves and do not compromise his principles. Thanks for bringing it up.

  34. says

    I take role models from various films to. Whilst I steer clear of the rather nasty actions in the Godfather films, I have been none to rush round “Just keep swimming”…
    Finding Nemo is packed full of allegories for business people. Striving for your ideal result can be a long journey but you’ll make friends along the way who help and it’s always worth it in the end. Being determined to keep going working towards your goal and never give up is a great thing to keep in mind.

  35. says

    Nice use of some lovely key points in the movie to illustrate blogging principles of success. I particularly was struck by the results triumph over credentials because I’m an unlikely blogger. I’m a physician blogger and for me writing well is an effort, in spite of years of education. I keep blogging because I get wonderful thank yous from readers whom I’ve helped. Just found another one through Google Alerts. I may not be a journalist or writer but I’m reaching people.

  36. says

    Thank you for this insightful post. One’s experience and the ability to render quality will always outweigh mere credentialing or the lack of it. The point about focusing on people who are a better fit for what you have to offer and not clinging to those you lose in the process is sound advice.

  37. says


    Your excellent insights into the King’s Speech are prompting me to admit publicly that I’m adapting Lionel’s boldness. I have a lot in common with him. I’m a communication coach who also use unusual methods to help my clients find their voice, I know I’m good at what I do and I don’t have the credentials.

    My business is growing because my methods work and my clients are promoting me. However, I’ve been keeping under the radar because of no credentials. After seeing this movie (twice), I am now boldly and more confidently talking what I do. When my clients feel self-conscious about the exercises, I tell them if they work for a king who stutters, they will work for you.

    Thank you for articulating it so well – “Results triumph credentials”.

    Best wishes

  38. says

    Hi Joy

    A good friend of mine sent me the link to this piece and I have found it to be a brilliant read and also of great relevance to me at this moment in time:

    I started a cake business, Nov 2010, this developed from learning/developing my own style of working with cake and sugarpaste and making cakes for friends and family. The buisness grew quickly and at first I was overjoyed to be receiving orders and watching my facebook page grow in popularity. I made it my mission (stupidly) to fulfil all orders and showcase the fact that I could produce cakes in many different styles.

    Eventually this ran me into the ground and I began hating it at times, I started looking to apply for cake decorator jobs rather than having my own business or going back to doing ot as a hobby so I could pick and choose the cakes I did. Eventually something clicked – why couldn’t I pick and choose the cakes I do?
    I absolutley LOVE creating the painted, sculpted and carved cakes and dislike creating the classic white wedding cakes or pretty flowery cakes (even though I am capable there are others out there who perfect this style with grace and elegance, but i feel my sculpted cakes are quite unique)

    This epiphany (if you will) only happened yesterday (although the marketing friend who sent me this way has been trying to enlighten me for months) and I decided after a catalogue of events and circumstance that it was time to push myself out there. I was worried I would lose customers if I started to turn down their request but I decided that this would be ok as I could use this time to market or blog or design. This was time for me to recognise my niche market my USP and to run with it.

    The classic and traditional designs on my website have now been hidden, the wedding page has been changed to something much more befitting of my style, requests from brides requiring a simple yet elegant cake have been politley declined and sent to other cake acquaintances and I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted. There is definitely vision there now and having read your work it is uncanny at how much these thoughts appply to me, and indeed help me;

    1 To have faith and confidence in the unique sculpted cakes I am producing

    2 To make it personal – my friend has convinced me (and I can’t wait) to start a blog about my caking experiences.

    3 To stop thinking because I have no qualifications/ formal training that I am not good enough to become well known or respected in my field nor capablefor my cakes or capable of offering advice to others who wish to learn from my experiences.

    This echoes and compounds the changes we began working on yesterday for the future of Chic Cakes and I am so releived, excited and confident about the plans we’ve made.

    A fantastic article – Thank you :)

    • says

      Wow, Laura, congratulations on this clarity! I think it’s going to serve you well. I wish you all the best as you pursue a business structure that feels authentic and delicious to your soul!

  39. says

    Hey Joy, love the name.
    I didn’t have any real desire to see The king’s Speech before reading your post, but now I think I will.
    I love the endorsement to be who I am even without the credentials. Passion, belief in your abilities and being true to yourself have to account for something don’t they?
    I stopped by your blog for a look, and plan to drop in again for a more detailed excursion.

    Thanks for the post, very insightful.

    • says

      Hey Joy! (I love meeting other Joys!) Thanks for this kind comment, and I really do think the movie is worth seeing. I’d love to hear what you think if you get around to watching.

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