The Hero’s Journey is a common template for a lot of great stories, from ancient mythologies to the classics of literature. It involves a hero who goes on an adventure, faces many challenges, is victorious through what seems to be insurmountable odds, and comes home changed or transformed.
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – Joseph Campbell (1949)
Meet our hero – you
Our story begins with a person who has little to no experience in the business world. We will call this person the entrepreneur… the hero …you. The entrepreneur’s background can be anything – an engineer, a musician, a salesperson, a teacher, or even a student. The defining characteristic of this character is that they have taken the first step towards a business venture.
It is worth mentioning here that even if you have achieved success in the business world before, a new venture is an adventure all of its own; you will face new villains (challenges and barriers) and you will have to use specific tactics to defeat them.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
– Laozi, c. 400 BCE
You will never finish a journey you never began. The first step is arguably the most important one in any endeavour. For the entrepreneur, the first step is getting the business idea finalised and committing to it.
Every single step along the way, including (but not limited to),
- Doing the necessary research
- Making the right connections
- Being able to articulate and present your idea to the world
- Get the right amount and right kind of funding
- Producing your MVP
- Working on and improving the idea constantly
take time and effort; all these steps have their own set of challenges, but you won’t do anything if you never take that first step.
A Journey into the unknown
Just as a mythological hero ventures out into uncharted waters to slay a beast that has never been defeated, an entrepreneur sets out on a journey into the unknown. There is no fixed mathematical algorithm or scientific formula that you can use to become successful at any given business. All businesses are different and all challenges along the way are their own beast. It is for this very reason that we call entrepreneurs heroes.
Passion above all
Almost every fictional hero sets out with one goal in mind – do whatever they can to win. It is this trait that we call passion. This applies in pretty much the same way in real life.
The one trait all successful entrepreneurs have in heaps and the one distinguishing factor between successful entrepreneurs and those who fell by the wayside is passion. Passion can be defined as a strong emotion that you can barely control. Passion helps you be driven beyond the ordinary into being a superstar. All successful people have a passion not just for success, but for their craft – be it art, sports, or business. As an entrepreneur, it’s good to have goals, a mission, a vision, objectives, and all that, but what should encompass all this is a driving force that will not diminish over time and will stand strong in turbulent times. Your venture might hit the rocks unexpectedly, but your passion should only get stronger.
There are several academic schools of thought on motivation, but what motivates your every action, your every breath, should be your desire to succeed. One of the most common traits of a failed entrepreneur is losing their passion in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Leaps of Faith
Caution and prudence are taught to most children from an early age, and they are nice traits to have in order to minimise damage to yourself and others. Being cautious or prudent, somehow, doesn’t mean that you should never take risks. No adventure is complete without taking a leap of faith. When you venture out into the world of business, there is a plethora of unknowns all around you. What you need to be able to do is control whatever variables you can and be aware of the uncontrollable so you can take the necessary actions to mitigate any risk.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example: There may be import restrictions on raw materials for a product you wish to manufacture, but you have found a new and yet untested alternative that is available in your country/region, at a higher cost than the imported material.
You have two options if you are to move forward:
Option 1 – You try to work around import restrictions and get the materials you had originally planned.
Option 2 – You source the new material from the local supplier.
Let’s look at the two options above in detail
You know that the materials work, but import restrictions could mean a drastic reduction in the quantity imported and/or a significant increase in cost.
If the quantity is reduced, you may not be able to produce the quantity needed to break even, due to capital spending, overheads, etc. If the cost of materials is increased, your production costs will increase with it, and either the unit price of your product will have to be adjusted to accommodate the change in cost. Economic forces indicate that higher prices result in lower demand and lower unit sales.
You could take a hit on your profit margins, but that would mean that you run the additional risk of not being able to keep the business afloat and being unable to provide an acceptable return for your investors.
If both scenarios are true (i.e., quantity reduction and price increase), you are most likely taking too much of a risk.
You don’t know if the materials work as intended. The most common-sense approach would be to use samples, create a few prototypes and test them in real-life scenarios. Remember that these additional steps incur a few costs as well. The advantage of testing this material is that you get a sense of what you can and cannot change and whether the material is viable for your product.
If the material is viable, you need to decide whether you will move forward based on the cost of the material, whether it works well with your product, whether there are additional costs (e.g. environmental) involved, and how those costs affect your bottom line.
In this scenario, one, both, or neither of the options may be viable. You need to make the decisions based on the numbers, such as:
- How much will switching materials set me back?
- How will it affect my unit price of, and subsequently demand, the product?
- Will I be profitable based on my decision?
- Will I lose investors, and even more importantly, will I be able to get more investors to cover the additional costs if any? How will I convince them to invest? Contact us at EquityMatch.co, as we are positioned to help you with investment advice at any stage of your business.
All these are difficult questions to answer, but nobody said business is easy. It is at these times that you either jump in wholeheartedly and try your best to make it work or fail even before you have begun. As we have seen over and over again in fiction and in real life, nobody becomes a hero by giving up.
In most stories we read and see, the hero ends up victorious, but some of the more interesting stories don’t end up that way. A hero’s journey is not just about winning every battle but surviving the tough battles along the way to win the war. What you do with your business is up to you, but unless you approach it with a winning mindset, you will not get where you want to go. Be wary, though, a winning mindset and an unending well of confidence have to be complemented by business knowledgeability, an unquenchable passion to learn, and a lot of planning.