What Marvel superheroes teach us about doing business in 2017

Superhero business plan

I’m a huge fan of Marvel’s superhero-movie franchise. Marvel superheroes ride through the clouds, take charge, and save the world. As much as their heroic acts help me transcend reality, the lessons learned by these heroes actually benefit my business.

Put simply, the larger-than-life teachings from the most popular superheroes offer practical, life-sized lessons for us as we do business in 2017. So to kick off the new year, let’s do a countdown of the best Marvel superheroes and how their lessons apply to business.

No. 5 Spider-Man from Spider-Man 2

Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man
Photo: PatLoika via VisualHunt / CC BY

The second Spider-Man movie reveals a conflict between the hero’s life and that of his normal persona, Peter Parker. Peter’s relationship with his girlfriend, family and his teachers are all at risk because of the demands of being a super crime-fighter, and he wants to hang up the mask.

I feel a particular kinship for the conflict between Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Life as a small business owner or entrepreneur is hard. I have to balance between life as a mom and my business all the time. Take now, for example. I’m working on this article while at the same time my son is home sick from school. All he wants to feel better is his favorite lunch — all I have time for is a quick toasted cheese sandwich and a guilt-ridden apology.

We make tough choices every day. How much do we focus on business? On friends and family? It’s a super-sized balance to strike. Many, including myself, can feel like hanging up the title of entrepreneur as the conflict rages within.

Who we are is more than who we are alone.

 

Spider-Man didn’t quit. He found a way to express both parts of himself, as imperfect as it might be. In 2017, business owners and entrepreneurs alike will face an uncertain business, political and personal climate. We’ll have to work harder to be successful in our businesses while making time for friends and family.

As you approach your business planning in 2017, combine your efforts with a personal vision that acknowledges the strengths of being part of a network of partners, friends and family. It might feel like you’re fighting Dr. Okto in the upcoming year, so enlist all the help you can get!

No. 4 X-Men from X-Men: Days of Future Past

Marvel Superheroes X-Men
Photo: theglobalpanorama via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

One decision was all it took to bring about impending doom for mutants and humans alike. Our Marvel superheroes from the present and the past must work with the enemy to prevent an apocalyptic event.

As a business owner, it’s necessary to review income statements or balance sheets from the previous year. So yes, debrief the past and look for answers, but don’t feel like your future is set in stone — good or bad.

Learning from our past affects our future, but not always in ways we expect.

 

Sometimes, we can give the past too much weight. Whether we believe it to be rosier or bleaker than it was, the decisions we make in 2017 must be forward thinking. As you make your business plans, consider asking yourself the following:

  • What went right?
  • How can I replicate that?
  • Where can I improve?

Entrepreneurs who will show themselves to be superheroes in 2017 will be the ones who adapt and plan for an uncertain future. To prepare, read this article from the Harvard Business Review and see three strategies for taking action in the face of uncertainty.

No. 3 Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Superheroes Guardians of the Galaxy
Photo: Gage Skidmore via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

I love the motley crew of reluctant Marvel superheroes in this movie. At first glance, you would never expect the team to come out on top to save the world. And while most Marvel movies stay true to a similar theme — beat the villains, save the world — Guardians of the Galaxy teaches us something a little bit different.

Not all superheroes look like superheroes.

 

A raccoon? A tree? These two are the furthest from our mental picture of a superhero. However, they made all the difference in the movie. And trust me, that’s important to keep in mind regardless of your business or industry.

Sometimes, the most successful ideas come from members of your team who don’t have access to decision making.

Ask your virtual assistant to share his/her ideas on your business strategies for 2017. Do you work with customer service professionals? Get them involved. What about an advisory team? If not, you may want to explore the benefits. They could be your unlikeliest heroes.

No. 2 The Avengers

Marvel Superheroes Avengers
Photo: nrjperera via VisualHunt / CC BY

The best of the best superheroes save the world, but not until they can put aside what makes them different and work together. As The Avengers progresses from the team’s formation to a period of conflict, Nick Fury unveils a central idea about forming teams:

“The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they become something more. See if they can work together when we needed them to.”

It’s a pretty compelling speech. If you need a reminder, here’s the video:

Chills. And it’s a lesson that all business owners can grasp. To be successful in 2017, put the right people in place, share your business goals, and work together to turns dreams into reality.

No. 1 Iron Man

Marvel Superheroes Iron Man
Photo: chris Doornbos via Visual hunt / CC BY

The common theme surrounding the first Iron Man is innovation. Tony Stark, the main character, goes through a transformation that supersedes his ingenuity surrounding the super suit. The technology he designed to save his life served a greater purpose in the long run — his ability to help others.

What you do and how you do it both matter.

 

What’s your higher purpose in 2017? Have you included training for your leadership development? Can you carve out time to be a mentor? You’ll find that putting learning and development into your plans can help you reach your goals in ways you’ve never imagined.

Marvel superheroes in business

As you craft your plans into superhero-sized business success in the coming year, perhaps you’ll watch these characters and movies with a new eye. What other Marvel superheroes epitomize success in your book? Share important lessons you’ve learned from the movies in the comments below!


Also published on Medium.

Image by: gfairchild via Visual hunt / CC BY

Soma Jurgensen
Words are Soma's superpower, and strategy is her sidekick. As the founder of Intentional Growth Strategies, Soma consults with small business owners to increase their sales and industry thought leadership. She uses leading edge theory from the nation's top business schools and translates them into real world practice in blogs, seminars, and training courses. When she's not writing for her blog or building her business, Soma enjoys driving her teenage sons to lacrosse practices, band concerts, and other events. (At least, until they get their drivers licenses.) She's a big fan of Marvel movies, reading, and changing the world. Connect with Soma on Twitter and Facebook, and check out her YouTube channel.