Who would have thought watching an action-packed thriller of a Marvel comic book character would teach me so much about entrepreneurship and running a company? Apparently I can’t just watch a movie the way it was intended and have to tie everything back to business.
So here it goes: the biggest lessons I learned about entrepreneurship from the movie, Iron Man
1. Entrepreneurs perform at their best when their backs are against the wall: In the first movie, Tony Stark gets captured in the Middle East and is held captive. In dealing with a life or death situation, Tony creates the first version of Iron Man after creating the arc reactor to power it. He was merely trying to save his life when he invented something that would change his company forever.
2. Innovative companies outperform copycats: There is a large rivalry between the two weapon manufacturers Stark Industries and Hammer Industries. Tony Stark is constantly out doing Justin Hammer, CEO of Hammer Industries, because he spends most of his efforts duplicating what Tony invented. Hammer consistently has defects in his products as a result, and can never land the deals Tony can.
3. Its ok to be a bit eccentric about your company and have a slight ego (just not too much): Tony probably takes this a bit too far, but it is, after all, a movie. His strong sense of confidence and his eccentric personality allow him to continue perfecting the Iron Man suit. If it weren’t for this personality trait, he probably would’ve settled on one of his arc reactors versus continuing to improve upon it. Great entrepreneurs have to continue to believe in what they are doing – even when others don’t – and continue to upgrade their product even when it seems like the product can never be beaten.
4. The entrepreneur should NOT always be the CEO: In fact, in almost every case, they shouldn’t. In Iron Man 2, Tony gives the managing power and title of CEO to his then assistant, Pepper Potts. He understands he isn’t good at running the company and that there’s someone who can do a better job. His strength is in creating products that the company can use, not in managing the day-to-day operations. Many entrepreneurs deal with a similar situation where they lack the skills and interest to run the company. There’s nothing wrong with this. Successful entrepreneurs know their strengths and weaknesses and have the courage to put a better person in place to actually run the company.
5. Entrepreneurs always get the girl: Ok, this may be a bit of a stretch but I had to throw this in for my own ego. Perhaps this is counterintuitive to #3, but you can’t blame me for trying, right?