As the old saying goes; “You should always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman!”. We say… Is it too much to ask for both? Batman is more than just a comic book superhero, he’s a cultural icon. And, like any great mythology from Aesop’s fables to Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories, there are important life lessons that all can learn from The Dark Knight’s mythos.
Nowhere is this more apparent than entrepreneurship. Aside from the fact that Batman is, in his civilian life, the CEO of a powerful corporation the crime fighter’s adventures have many lessons that can benefit an entrepreneur.
Any astute business person worth their salt knows that inspiration can come from even the most unlikely of sources. Believe it or not, whether you’re in the process of launching your startup or you’re a veteran who’s always looking to improve their methodology, here are some important lessons you can learn from the costumed crime fighter…
Never Give Up
Batman has no superpowers. He’s just a regular human being who’s dedicated his life to being the best there is at what he does. If he does have a superpower it’s his dogged determination. No matter how heavily the odds are stacked against him, he perseveres and saves the day no matter what. It’s this ability that allows him to stand shoulder to shoulder with super powered titans like Superman and Wonder Woman.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to demonstrate the same determination to stand shoulder to shoulder with the corporate giants that dominate the marketplace. No matter how insurmountable keeping your business afloat may seem… A great entrepreneur never gives up!
Trust Your Employees
Everyone thinks of Batman as a brooding loner, but even he recognizes (albeit grudgingly) that there’s only so much one individual can do alone. Batman trusts in his team in both his crime fighting and professional lives. He trusts his sidekick Robin and faithful butler Alfred just as he entrust Lucius Fox and his administrative team at Wayne Enterprises.
Entrusting your employees with your business is much easier said than done. Your business is, after all, your baby and represents a lot of the hard work, long hours and personal sacrifices that you made to build your business from the ground upward.
However, in order to be a well rounded entrepreneur (and maintain a semblance of sanity and work / life balance) trust in your team is essential. It will enable you to take more risks and allow yourself time away from your business to build relationships and co-branding opportunities with other businesses, make appearances and speaking engagements.
These will help your business grow organically and cement its position within the landscape of the market. It will also give you much needed time with your family and loved ones. A burnt out entrepreneur is of little use to anyone.
Outsource To Build Your Own Justice League
For all his skills, even Batman knows when he’s not equal to some tasks and seeks outside help. We saw it earlier this year in the Justice League movie as he recruited Wonder Woman, Cyborg, the Flash and Aquaman to defeat the evil Steppenwolf. Likewise, as important as it is to believe in your business and your abilities, it’s just as important to know when to outsource to companies that can help to grow your business.
As tempting as it may be to indulge your ego and the belief that you can do everything; just because you can do some things doesn’t mean you should. Outsourcing elements of your business like digital marketing to an outside agency or employing HR recruitment specialists can be more beneficial to your operations and your finances in the long run.
Outsourcing leaves you free to focus on your core duties and key strengths, and your business will be stronger for it.
Always Be Prepared
The Caped Crusader never leaps into battle without meticulous planning and a utility belt filled with the right equipment. Whatever situation he may encounter he always has a plan and various contingencies should that plan fail.
Just like Batman, you should have a clearly delineated yet agile strategy for your business in monthly, quarterly and annual increments. You should be sure to invest in the right equipment to help keep productivity at optimal levels and show the world that your business embraces innovation. You should be equipped to pre-empt and deal with new changes to your industry and be prepared to throw out the rule book if necessary.
Just look at the difference between how Netflix and Blockbuster handled changes in their industry if you need a valuable cautionary tale. While the former adapted their strategy to embrace industry changes, the latter stuck obstinately to their strategy and clung to it all the way to their liquidation.
Master Your Bat-Branding
Batman is a master of many things, key amongst them is branding. No, we don’t mean the kind of branding where he was searing his logo into the bad guys’ flesh in Batman V Superman (that never goes down well at board meetings). We mean the astute branding like getting a Metropolitan police force to beam his logo into the sky! Batman doesn’t carry boomerangs, he has bat-a-rangs. He doesn’t use a rope, he uses a bat-rope, his computer is a bat-computer.
One needn’t stray far from the realms of reality to find a comparable business paradigm. Just look at Apple. Apple don’t make smartphones, they make iPhones. They don’t make tablets, they make iPads. Though functionally the same, they’re very different in the eyes of loyal consumers.
Embrace The Importance Of Image
Part of what has made Batman such an enduring pop culture icon while his contemporaries like The Shadow or Doc Savage faded into obscurity over the years has to be his super cool image created by Bill Finger back in 1939.
Batman knows how to use theatricality to his advantage and he also knows how to make an entrance. Though you’re unlikely to go into a meeting with potential investors or co-branding opportunities with smoke bombs and a swirling black cape, you should underestimate the value of image in making a first impression at your peril.
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