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Lessons From the Bard: How Shakespeare Would Run a Business

Editor's Note: This is the sixth article in a monthly series focusing on business and leadership lessons from prominent figures in history, sports, politics and more.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- "Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."

William Shakespeare's famous quote from Twelfth Night could not be more fitting for a column on entrepreneurism, which makes him the latest personality to be featured in TheStreet's monthly column.

William Shakespeare

On what is considered to be his 448th birthday (ironically, he died on the same day at age 52), what business lessons can we learn from the famous playwright?

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March to the beat of a different drummer.

College classes are dedicated solely to Shakespearean works of literature, numerous plays have been adapted for movies and television and select verses have been referenced everywhere from Star Trek to My So Called Life. All of this shows how much the playwright was able to resonate with his audience - even those that lived hundreds of years after him.

It's inspirational for any entrepreneur who has the latest and greatest invention.

Shakespeare "changed the way people looked at literature," says Craig Libis, CEO of Executive Recruiting Consultants and a history buff. "He revolutionized the way people looked at the English language. How many other authors do we know ... are as popular today as they were when they were alive? That's a pretty strong testament."

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In reality though only few can achieve this lofty goal.

We are still able to relate to Shakespeare because his writing touched upon basic themes of human nature - power, love, and conforming (or more often not) to society - yet they were presented in a fresh (at the time controversial) way.

"He honestly tried to do things always a little bit differently than what everybody else was doing and he was not afraid to take that step. He faced a lot of criticism, the Puritans came in and tried to run him out, but he always kind of beat to his own drum," Libis says.

So what can entrepreneurs learn from this? That being unique, being different and not going along with the crowd is one way to get your product or service noticed. "He truly tried to reinvent the wheel in his own way. Not every business needs to invent the wheel, but we can't be afraid to change," Libis adds.

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