Monday, March 26, 2012

Surviving the Odds at New business!!!

A lot has been written and said about the miseries of starting a new business. Watching the protagonist Katniss Everdeen in 'The Hunger Games' reminded me of the many things we need to learn to survive where we are - in our jobs, in class, in the family and among friends. Came across a piece on 'Four Small Business lessons from The Hunger Games' by Kara Ohngren on The movie is about the survival not just of the fittest but of those who are smart and realistic. It focuses on harnessing your strengths and avoiding weaknesses whenever you can.
Katniss's mentor tells her "It is all about making people love you." How true when it comes to launching a new product or setting up a new restaurant. It is about how you endear yourself to people. Katniss needs to get sponsors to help her survive the barbaric fights where winning is everything. She also has a lot of raw energy that needs to be channeled. She is a winner in the making. Some interesting personality traits - she is not easily ruffled by failures, nor does she seem to ecstatic about her success. She has tremendous self-belief and knows what she wants. While starting a new business, one of the earliest setbacks is when the promoter himself is unsure of what he is trying to sell...or when he is unsure of the USP of his product or service. Whilst there can be many detractors to one's ideas, the biggest blow is when the proponent is uncertain. Self-belief is thus the key to success in new ventures.
A very interesting piece of advice that the mentor gives Katniss is not to run for her strength (the bow) but to survive the first few days. He tells her to get to the highest level in the forest and stay there. The lesson that can be drawn from this is not to show off all your power mantras at one go. First try and stay in the market. Play the sales and the volume game. Get into the market and make sure you survive the initial hiccups. Then put out your best. Katniss gets hold of a backpack with a rope and sleeping bag to help her survive and she does find the bow later.
One very important part of growing into a business of your own is that the business must be a natural extension of what you are. Kara Ohngren in the article also propogates the idea of being yourself. Just to take this idea a little forward....Katniss is shown as a loyal friend, a concerned lover and one who is willing to put in the ultimate sacrifice - her life for the man she loves. Taking this to a new business would mean "putting business before self", "placing the demands of time and money at work above anything personal" and "living that dream every moment of your life."
Another lesson that Katniss teaches us is to adapt to the changing needs of the situation. She is annoyed at Peeta's sudden declaration of amorous feelings for her. But she softens as soon as he explains that it was meant as a compliment and when her mentor tells her that it will improve her ratings and make her a crowd favorite. The lesson underlying this would be to adapt to a change that may initially seem annoying and not in sync with your beliefs. The more open you are to ideas, the easier it will be for you to increase the value proposition to your business (especially from an unexpected angle).
Of the many lessons of life..The Hunger Games is a tasteful reminder of the many pains and pleasures and how we need to go about them wishing that in the end all would be well. Same is the case with new business - you nurture it, cherish it and hope it will give you reasons to smile in the years to come.

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