A version of this article originally appeared on the EO Melbourne blog. The content has been edited and reprinted here with permission.
Stories of entrepreneurs overcoming early obstacles and ultimately achieving success on their journey can be found on every blog or business site. And these tales leave many of us thinking, “Wow! They did all that?” Some people even regard today’s entrepreneurs as modern day heroes or, even, superheroes.
With superhero movies debuting regularly on the big screen, it’s natural to make the comparison. After all, those caped crusaders and masked heroes may have awesome moves and incredible powers, they are essentially hardworking individuals overcoming challenges in often unexpected and bold ways.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of superheroes and spot the parallels with entrepreneurs.
1. Superheroes often start as underdogs.
Even heroes get bullied and experience hardships early in their lives. It’s when they experience being at the bottom that they set their sights for the top. It’s also when they realize the shared pain of so many others.
For superheroes—and entrepreneurs—it’s often this early suffering that ignites a passionate drive to help others and save the world. It motivates them to push forward and reach for their dreams—to leap without looking.
2. Superheroes must learn to master their power.
Upon discovering the power they hold, superheroes don’t jump up immediately and start saving the world. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for young superheroes is learning to control their power and wield it for good. They inevitably make missteps and must continue refining their understanding of superpowers.
Superman wears his red cape. Captain America carries his shield. Batman dons his mask. These signature looks let others identify them easily.
Without a doubt, branding is important in building your reputation. It helps people identify and connect with your personality, product and services. Particularly in today’s visually focused world, marketing matters. Keep your look—whether it’s a signature color or logo—consistent across platforms to establish your brand and attract followers.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker’s uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movie. Being a superhero is no joke! You will work round the clock, and must reply to even the most harrowing calls for help. Hardworking superheroes often sacrifice their family, friends and loved ones. Plus, their superpowers have limits. Ultimately, their powers are intended for the good of others and not for selfish gains.
6. It’s not just the cape that makes superheroes fly.
Sure, some superheroes can fly. But it’s not just their cape that helps them defy the force of gravity. Wind propels them upward and helps them soar like a bird.
The most well-known entrepreneurs attribute much of their success to an effective team that helps them achieve their goals. Hiring the right staff members is one of the many obstacles early-stage entrepreneurs must tackle. However, once they’ve placed the right people in the right roles, they can achieve goals by leaps and bounds.
7. For every superhero, there is a villain.
There’s no hero without a villain. Villains wreak havoc and create chaos for humanity. They add excitement to the story, and they also keep the superhero busy!
In business, “villains” create a dent in a brand or a venture. They compete for clients or employees. The smartest entrepreneurs will learn from these enemies and build their business in spite of the competition. It’s these villains who help mould your business and also develop your leadership and business savvy.
8. Joining a league is an “in” thing.
There’s the Justice League, the Avengers and the X-Men. 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 stronger they become.
As long as there is evil in this world, superheroes are here to stay. Their mission is ongoing.
Most entrepreneurs say that the challenges never stop. Once you’ve figured out one aspect of business, another challenge—or opportunity to learn—crops up. Thus growth is ongoing. For every victory, there is a new goal.
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.” For many entrepreneurs, this characterization probably sounds very familiar.