Five Things The Dark Knight Taught Me About Running A Business
I know, I know. I’m a Marvel fan but Batman is DC...so why am I writing about Batman? And what does superheroes even have to do with business? Why am I even writing about an old movie? Geez, so many questions...haha! To answer; I love superhero movies and it doesn’t matter if they are from Marvel or DC; Marvel just has been doing a good job of feeding my superhero film obsession.
The first superhero I was exposed to from a very young age was Tim Burton's Batman and yes, I had a crush on Batman. (Gosh, why did I admit that?) But that’s not the point. The point is you can learn a lot from some of these movies and -as I’ve realised a few days when I decided to unwind by rewatching Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight- you can even learn a thing or two about running a business. And boy, do I have exhibits:
I’m mentally forcing myself not to go off tangent and write an essay about how brilliant Heath Ledger performance as the Joker was but dang...brilliant performance! Anyway the movie contains many quotables from the Joker himself but this one made me pause and think. How often have we given our services out for free because we were afraid of charging what we are worth or even lacking the confidence to believe that someone would actually pay for our skills and knowledge?
Story time! Back in college I befriended this socialite/club promoter who asked me every week to design a flyer for a club party and I would actually take time out of an already busy schedule and meticulously design the flyers...for free! He raved about the flyers and would come back week after week to give me a ‘job’.
Let me mention that people actually paid entrance for those parties and they were attended by the who’s who of the SA entertainment scene. So the promoter could afford to pay me a few bucks for the flyers right? When I broached the subject with him he said –wait for it- that it’ll be great exposure for me. I want to cry thinking about it but I was such a naive student back then and by the time it hit me that this guy was taking advantage of me and I didn’t even stand to gain anything from that because I wasn’t interested in designing club flyers for a living. I wish I had watched The Dark Knight before then, it would have saved me a lot of time and effort. Still a lesson learned, right?
So if you have something that you are good at and you’re giving away for free to benefit others who are making money using your skills and expertise but you don’t get to benefit anyway, anyhow from that. I implore you to reconsider...especially if you yourself could do with the money. I promise you there will be people who will pay you for what you know, don’t make the same mistake I did.
If you’ve started a business or have been running one for a little while, you will know by now how hard it is. Plenty of business owners have seen nights when they wonder if the frustrations and the failures get a bit much and they wonder if it’s all worth it. And to those that persevere and keep going, they get see that yes, it was worth it.
The truth about running a business is that it’s very lonely and it can get very depressing behind-the-scenes. I know that for a fact and this quote reminded me that even when things are bad, there’s a chance that a breakthrough is on the corner and dawn will arrive. If you are currently in that situation, keep going.
Now, this quote is not unlike the one discussed about because sometimes...most times we fail in this business thing. And when we fail, we fall. More often than not when we fall, there is no one around to pick us up (remember what I said about running a business being lonely) or there is no one who understands our dreams and goals enough to know what they meant to us...so we have to learn to pick ourselves up and with each failure, we learn more and before you know it failing is not as devastating as it was the first time.
I’m quoting the Joker more than once in this post and with good reason; he had some brilliant lines. I’m sure that you can relate to this quote, after all, how many times has your time been wasted by people who just weren’t serious about what they wanted? Haha, in business, it happens all the time and as a busy business owner, it can get rather infuriating. Sometimes you just want to say take lead from the Joker and say, “why don’t you give me a call when you want to start taking things a little more seriously? Here’s my card.” *hands over beautiful, on-brand business card*
When running a business, you’ve got to demand that people respect your time just as you do theirs, otherwise they’ll just feel free to waste your time when you would rather have used that time to engage with serious people who don’t play around. Make it a rule to productively make use of time that you dedicate to running your business...you’ll be freeing up more time to spend on yourself, your friends and your family and will less likely be overwhelmed or burned out.
Think about this quote for a moment...let it awash your thoughts and allow it to sink in...brilliant, isn’t it? How many times do we hear about new start-ups that are disrupting the market? These start-ups are founded by people chose to upset the established order and do something that no one has thought about before or something no one had the gumption to even attempt.
Because of those people, chaos ensued and monopolies were toppled over and things became much fairer because you didn’t have to have an MBA to start a billion dollar business and people armed with just an internet connection and idea could have the chance to change the world. Think of companies like Uber or AirBnb to name a few. Ladies and gentlemen...innovation at its finest.
And to you I say dare to introduce a little anarchy. Go into the brambles and create own path instead of the one set out before you. Make your business one of innovation.
This post has been such a pleasure to write and I hope you will watch The Dark Knight (It’s rated 9/10 on IMDB and 94% on Rotten Tomatoes!) if you haven’t already and allow your mind to be blown.
What other films do you think have some great takeaways you can use in business? I’d like to check out a few more so leave suggestions below in the comments.
P.S Who’s excited for Civil War and Suicide Squad?