The adventure of running your own business is just as challenging as it is exciting. From time to time, many entrepreneurs might wish they had some kind of a super power to help them make instant (and correct) decisions, constantly generate fresh ideas to stay ahead of the competitors, deal with multitasking, and more. Well, we can’t promise you a spare neutron laser, but there are a few real lessons you can learn from the super heroes to gain new powers on the business battlefield.
1. Superman – Know your weaknesses.
Clark Kent knew perfectly well that his “Achilles heel” was vulnerability to Kryptonite. For a successful entrepreneur, it’s important to be aware of your own and your business’ weak points, too. And, going further, to be able to turn the weaknesses into an advantage in certain situations. In the 1960s, Hertz was the evident leader in the car rental business, and Avis was just one of the brands in the following pack. Instead of trying to compete for 1st place, Avis launched an ad campaign with the slogan “We are No.2. So we try harder.” Within the next 4 years, they had tripled their market share.
2. Batman – Establish your network.
Networking generally requires a lot of time and energy. However, the effort Bruce Wayne made in this direction and the new connections he established helped the Dark Knight in his main mission of protecting Gotham City. In the business space, networking can connect you with new partners and, therefore, help you find potential new paths to the market.
3. Flash – Be lightning fast in your reactions.
Maybe you don’t need to move with super speed in everyday life, but in the business space, an instant reaction to any arising issue is vital. Facing an unexpected sickness of the team’s key player, a controversial comment in social media or a competitor’s product launch, an entrepreneur can benefit from reacting as competently and as fast as possible. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, advised businesses “not to sit on decisions.” His quote, which is often cited, states, “Don’t set something aside, instead of making a decision on the spot. In order to get speed, decisions at virtually every level have to be made in minutes, not days or weeks.”
4. Iron Man – Leverage the newest technology.
Most of the time, superheroes are not born, but made. For example, what always helped Tony Stark get ahead of his opponents was having the best “gadgets” in his arsenal. From his example, an entrepreneur can learn that being open to the latest tech trends (say, top-notch planning software) and ready to mix & match them is not an option, but a necessity in the modern business world.
5. Captain America – Become an inspiration.
Both soldiers and Avengers followed Captain America. Why? Because he knew that a man is made by his team, and he pushed himself to be better, which in turn inspired those around him to be better, too. A successful entrepreneur believes in what he or she does and understands that working with your own team is as important as working with the market or your business partners. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh strongly believes that the staff’s happiness is key to the company’s success. One of the methods he uses in his “happiness framework” is sending motivational open letters to encourage his employees. As a result, Zappos is known not only for its customer service, but also for its exceptional organizational culture.
6. Incredible Hulk – Be adaptive.
Just like Professor Banner, transforming from the genius scientist into the mighty Hulk, in the business world, an entrepreneur can vary the tactics and be flexible in his or her decisions. In 1984, Frederick W. Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx, introduced an electronic delivery service, Zapmail, that was so unsuccessful that it cost the company nearly $350 million over two years. Realizing his own mistake, Smith abandoned Zapmail. Instead, he refocused the company’s energy on its core delivery business. And today, it’s a prosperous, multimillion-dollar corporation.
7. Wolverine – Stand up, even if you fall.
There is no business road without bumps and risks. Learning from the front X-man, who regenerates and comes back to fight even after the most serious injuries, a successful entrepreneur understands that it’s okay to fall, as long as you stand up to face the new challenges. Moreover, a failure can be an important lesson that will contribute to nurturing business success. Randy Komisar, a successful venture capitalist, names “the culture of constructive failure” as the main reason that Silicon Valley became the world’s innovation center.
Having a fantastic superpower would solve a lot of entrepreneurs’ challenges. However, if you are ready to learn both from your mistakes and your achievements, are open to communication, and have a quick eye for tech and business trends, becoming a super-hero entrepreneur in the real business world is just a matter of time.
How about you? What super-hero advice can you share, or what special ability do you wish you could apply to your business?
Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike, provider of popular project management software. He is a seasoned software entrepreneur, project and product manager, and advisor to several fast-growing ventures.
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