As economies across the world scramble to make up for the losses incurred during the COVID 19 pandemic, businesses struggle to re-establish order, restart business, motivate their teams and shore up sagging bottom lines. Founders are at their wit’s end about how to cope, run their businesses as lock downs across the world are relaxed and businesses are kick started. The only good thing is – no single person has been impacted – it is everyone struggling to cope. Disrupted markets and supply chains have resulted in erratic demand. Now, as many lock downs around the world begin to ease – businesses, leaders & entrepreneurs are wondering about the way forward. The thought of starting work is complex – in more ways than one. Most importantly, there is no set method or rule book for navigating the way forward. Entrepreneurs, Founders and Business owners are starting to realize that in many cases, it will be more like starting a business from scratch. As economies slowly open up and businesses restart functioning, organizations, entrepreneurs, team leaders and individuals will all have to contribute to bring forth the “New Normal” – where safety, precautions & awareness will play a central role. Against this backdrop, organizations will need a depth in approach and strong, agile mindset to cope. These are the testing times and can very well teach you what it means to being an entrepreneur today.
Often, narratives from fiction serve to offer solutions and a way forward – in this case, where courage, resilience and fortitude are core requirements, there could be some lessons learnt from the iconic character John Rambo. This hugely successful & mythical character has been developed by celebrated author David Morrell, and later serialized in a series of movies. The series starts with “First Blood” – John Rambo, a Vietnam war veteran, returns home from the war to be disillusioned by how the public at large is anti-war and rejects soldiers as members of mainstream society. As he is subjected to victimization by a small-town cop, jailed, brutalized and pushed to the edge, he reacts the only way he knows how. Across the series of movies that shows him win against insurmountable odds, there are several useful traits and lessons which can be applied to life, business and entrepreneurship.
Here are a few Ways to Approach the Situation:
Faith in One’s Own Abilities
It is in these difficult times that founders and entrepreneurs will need to step up to the plate and deliver their best. The situation will be daunting, times will be hard and the odds may seem too much to face. But this is the time to have full faith in your own abilities and respond pro-actively. In the movie, Rambo was up against an entire company of the National Guard, and being hunted through the forests and mountains by helicopter, dogs and men. How did he overcome these heavy odds? By putting his faith in himself and his own abilities. He relies heavily on his own skills and comes out tops – not only reversing the situation but by getting the better of it. Somehow, he survived – by relying on his skills, his courage and instincts – that is what businessmen will need to do.
Never Give Up
The times are tough and the situation dismal – but then, you are not alone. Everyone is facing more or less the same situation. Globally, businessmen are struggling to cope with the economic losses and downward trending markets that are result of the pandemic. This is the time when you will be tested, sorely – like never before, perhaps. More importantly, there is no playbook for this situation – no set norms or rules. The basic fact is that you have to persevere. You have to strive to keep on going and not give up. Whether he was being hunted in the Vietnam jungles or chased by attack helicopters in mountains, Rambo was always up against massive odds, where he could not possibly survive. But somehow, in some way, he always managed to keep on going and came out tops. He never gave up – the thought never entered his mind. He may suffer setbacks, but he just kept on going like a force of nature that did not know how to stop. This is the ability and mindset that entrepreneurs will need to cultivate.
Know The Terrain and Keep Moving
Rambo was at a disadvantage in each movie – he rarely if at all knew the terrain – whether in the jungles or mountains or the hills. But somehow he managed to use the terrain to his advantage. In business, it is the businessman who knows his market, his customers, his distribution channels, his communication modes, better than anyone else. How he leverages these in difficult times is up to him. Using every bit of knowledge and situations can help him navigate this environment much better, and perhaps, recover faster. There are multiple terrains John Rambo faces – the urban environment, the wilderness, mountains and even an underground cavern. He follows 1 fundamental rule – he keeps on moving and takes the fight to the opposition in the end – a basic rule of soldiering. He uses what best resources he has and turns the terrain into an advantage against the “enemy”.
There’s always Something you can Use
In difficult times, whatever serves the purpose to solve the problem is used. The pandemic and the resulting economic situation is something no one has ever experienced. Everyone is responding the best way they know how and there are no set norms & protocols to follow. Founders, entrepreneurs and businessmen are operating on instinct or responding as per the situation’s demands. Trapped at edge of a cliff, Rambo is edges over the side, on a ledge – and is being fired upon by the soldiers on top. Behind him, in the air, there is a helicopter with a sniper aiming at him. He glances below – there is a tall tree which may break his fall. He takes the risk and leaps. Though hurt badly, he lives to fight another day. Accordingly, funders and entrepreneurs will need to be bold & unconventional in their approach – adapting to the situation to take advantage of anything that can be used to help the business.
Swapan Dholakia is a senior Communications and Trade Advocacy professional. His current interest areas are trade diplomacy and leveraging Communications to impact society & audiences at large.