3 Entrepreneur Lessons from Andy Dufresne

By Joshua Womack, - In Entrepreneurs

Picture of Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption

If you’ve ever had a lazy Saturday afternoon and have stumbled across TNT, there’s an 80% chance The Shawshank Redemption was on… and there’s about a 90% chance you have watched the whole movie.

The Shawshank Redemption is an amazing tale of hope, persistence and friendship. It came out in 1994 which, unfortunately, was the same year another great film came out, Forrest Gump. Over 20 years later, Gump might be more quotable to the layman but we can all agree there’s a little Andy Dufresne in all of us.

Sometimes being an entrepreneur is like being a prisoner… being isolated with your thoughts and trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel can be challenging.

Here are three lessons from the film’s main character that anyone can benefit from. If you’re starting your own business, it may resonate just a little bit more.


In the microwave society that we live in patience is short and instant gratification is now. The minute we post a status or selfie there is a little part of us that craves the ‘likes’, re-tweets and comments. The age of the smartphone has made buying products, hailing a ride and even depositing a check as easy as 1-2-3…3 taps that is…if that.

Andy Dufresne didn’t have any of the technology, but what he did have was a game plan and whole LOT of elbow grease. Andy decided that prison wouldn’t define him and that for the next 19 years he would chip away at this freedom.

The repetitive, boring and not-so-glamorous task you have as an employee, emerging CEO or even as a parent can get old real quick, but think of the long game. Set a goal, stay the course…even if it’s almost 20 years.

Learning a New Skill Set

In prison, you have an abundance of time, so why not learn something? Or if you have a heightened set of skills, you can teach something too.

Andy took the time to help young Tommy Williams learn to read so he could obtain his GED in prison… Tommy was eventually shot and killed later in the movie on orders from the warden, but nevertheless.

Andy also took the time to write the state hundreds of letters in a desperate plea for money to fund the prison library and supply used books. The result? Brooks Hatlen Memorial Library. Andy’s persistence led to a set of resources for the prisoners that led to a whole new world for them. Andy’s persistence ended up benefitting the whole team…much like a supervisor or manager going to bat for his or her employees.


In the walls of Shawshank, survival is key. Most of the time it’s every man for himself, but Andy found a way to gain the respect of hardened criminals.

While tarring the roof, Andy listened in as Captain Hadley talked to another one of the guards about his trouble with filing taxes. Andy, a banker by trade, stuck his neck out and offered to help Hadley with this affair for a small fee… that fee being cold beers for his men who were sweating in the sun. Andy skills fit a certain niche problem, and he saw a window of opportunity, but it was an opportunity for everyone to benefit. When the time came for the men to enjoy their beverages, Andy didn’t drink any beer… he just smiled knowing that his guys were enjoying a little piece of freedom, even for a few minutes.

Are there any movie characters that you identify with? Would love to hear!


Co-Founder of Laugh Staff, copywriter & Pastor. Denise & Jay's Son.