By now, you have probably read the stories of our EO Melbourne members on how they traversed their respective entrepreneurial paths. Many, if not all of them, went through arduous experiences to get to where they are today. If before, you would have probably asked, “how did they do that?” now, you might have exclaimed, “wow, they did all that!” Thus, it comes as no surprise if some people regard these entrepreneurs as a kind of hero, drawing inspiration from them.
We love great stories. We like to hear exploits of heroes who emerged as winners against all odds. Based on the stories we’ve read on business owners, there is something about superheroes that we can link back to entrepreneurship. They may not be entirely similar but there are certainly parallelisms between the two.
These past years, superhero movies banner the big screen one after another. Sure, those caped crusaders and masked heroes have awesome kick-ass moves that make us root for them, the same way we look up to those individuals who are now at the helm of successful businesses. But underneath the glitz and glamour, the cheers and the applause, there are insurmountable undertakings lined up for superheroes. How they hurdle all those obstacles is what thickens the plot, which we all crave to watch.
Let us take a closer look at superhero stories and spot the parallels with the entrepreneurial journeys of business owners.
1. A superhero was once an underdog
Even heroes born with superpowers had been bullied or had to go through hardships at the early point of their lives. It was when they experienced being at the bottom that they felt the pain of those who were in the same boat as they are. That pain is often the wick that ignites the burning fire within superheroes to help others and save the world.
Based on the stories shared in the blog articles in this site, entrepreneurs, even those born in a family of business people, experienced several difficulties and adversities. Their pain points drove them to start their respective businesses and provide solutions to society’s problems. And as they started with their enterprise, the birth pains were constantly present. These sufferings can be a motivation that can push them forward to reach for their dreams and turn them into reality.
2. Testing the superpower and controlling it
Upon discovering the power they held, our superheroes didn’t jump out immediately and go about saving people. The biggest challenge in the onset was to master what their power could do and control the energy emanating from within them. Once they learn the extent of their power, that's when they make their debut to the public.
Starting a business does not mean it will yield profits overnight. It takes a bit of training and getting used to the environment before you get to grasp the ins and outs of running an enterprise. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get to see the results you want in a short span of time. Learning is a continuous process. You’ll be able to get there with determination and relentlessness.
3. Symbols are significant
Superman has his red cape and “S” symbol. Captain America has the star. Batman has his bat sign. Each one of them has a costume and an insignia that enable people to identify who they are. People know who does the good deeds and whom to call for help. Those costumes also hide their true identity as superheroes do not want to brandish who they are.
Your brand is important to your business. It makes people identify and connect with your products and services. That is a significant part of marketing. But as you build your business and as you expand your empire, keep your feet on the ground. One piece of advice that entrepreneurs impart to budding startup owners is to stay as humble as they can despite the successes they garner.
4. Responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben uttered in the Spiderman movie. Being a superhero is no joke. They work round the clock, responding to calls for help whenever they can. If you have been following the epic stories of superheroes, you’ll find that they often lose their family, friends and loved ones. And while they possess superpowers, they also have limitations. Those powers are intended for the good of others and not just for selfish gains.
Similarly, entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate. Besides, heading an enterprise is not a popularity contest. Owning a startup is a position of responsibility. Business owners have to oversee their team, ensure a positive bottom line, and supervise operations with utmost standards. For entrepreneurs, work is life. They are so passionate about their business that they often lose sleep over it. Accountability is one of the many things that we keep on hearing from business owners because it is necessary for achieving one’s goals.
5. Heroes save the world, but they also need to be saved
Superheroes save those who are in emergency situations. They fight crimes. They rescue those who call for help. They put out fires any time of the day. But have you observed that there are scenes wherein the superhero is often on the brink of defeat? Sometimes, a loved one would be able to save that hero. Despite their powers, they are often in need of heroes themselves.
Leading a company can often put one in a lonely position. Business owners oversee everything, but it seems that no one has got their back. Or so it seems. Behind every successful entrepreneur is a family or loved one that gives strength to keep the entrepreneur going.
6. It’s not just the cape – it’s the wind – that make superheroes fly
Caped superheroes can fly. But it’s not just that piece of clothing or their superpower that helps them fly high above the sky and beyond, defying the force of gravity. It is the wind that provides the force to propel them upward and soar like a bird.
Entrepreneurs attribute most of their successes to an effective team that helps them achieve their goals. Selecting the right staff members is one of the challenges that business owners face. However, once they are able to hire the people that perfectly fit into their business culture, they can do things by leaps and bounds.
7. Shield and armour are necessary for defence
Despite their powers and weapons, heroes still need some form of defence from attacks against them. Their suits, shield or accessories can help protect them from danger and minimise damage.
In business, some form of security and insurance is needed to protect one’s venture. One cannot know what may happen, so it’s always helpful to prepare for the worst. Entrepreneurs will go to certain lengths to protect their business, their ideas, their people, and their customers.
8. For every superhero, there is a villain
There won’t be a hero without a villain to face. It’s like a stamp needed for one to be a superhero. There is always someone that will make a hero’s life a living hell. Villains wreak havoc and create chaos for humanity. Don't they make the story even more exciting?
Even in business, there are so-called “villains” that create a dent in a brand or a venture. They can be competition, problem partners or employees, economic downturn, or even the business owners themselves. Sometimes, the setback can be the mistakes that entrepreneurs commit or internal struggles they have to battle out. There are demons to fight, whether internally or externally. Obstructions seem to be an ever-present entity in anyone's entrepreneurial journey. On the other hand, these obstacles also help mould entrepreneurs to be better individuals and stronger leaders.
9. Joining a league is an “in” thing
There’s the Justice League, the Avengers, and the X-Men, to cite some examples. We love it when heroes band together to fight a greater evil. There’s strength in numbers and the more diverse powers they can pool, the more undefeatable they become.
At some juncture in the journey, business owners realise the need to be with like-minded individuals that can relate to the struggles they are experiencing. This realisation led some of them to join groups like Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Melbourne. EO has become a strong support system for these entrepreneurs through their forum, not to mention the continuous learnings that help hone their capabilities. Members of EO Melbourne emphasise the great value it brings to their business and personal lives.
10. The battle is endless
Many of these superhero movies have sequels or varied versions. That’s because their mission is ongoing. As long as there is a need in this world, superheroes are here to stay. Also, with new challenges in our society that are mirrored in these movies, expect additional superheroes to crop up in the future.
Most entrepreneurs say that the challenges never stop. At the same time, the learning is incessantly never ending. Every milestone calls for bigger expectations. For every victory, there is a new goal set. As they move towards expanding their business ventures, a new adventure awaits along their entrepreneurial journey.
Becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting prospect. People may have several misconceptions about owning a business. For some, it seems like a daunting thing to do. For others, they may deem it boring. There are a few that only see the successes entrepreneurs are reaping. Unless we read their stories and be inspired by them, we’ll never fully appreciate the colourful journey they are taking.
According to Christopher Reeve, the American actor who portrayed the role of Superman, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” And so is an entrepreneur.