Ten points that show entrepreneurship is just like horror movie survival

No matter if you’re going bump in the night in a new costume or sitting indoors munching the sweets you bought for trick or treaters this Halloween, we have a few business lessons you can take away from horror movies

Ten points that show entrepreneurship is just like horror movie survival

Halloween is perhaps the most relatable season for entrepreneurs. After all, running a business has all the components of a horror film – for starters it isn’t for the faint-hearted and entails innumerable sleepless nights.

Although you might have a breakthrough product, you’re frequently haunted by competitors. And while your entrepreneurial journey takes you along dark cobbled streets from time to time, you’re more often than not unaware of the consequences a mistake can cause until the very end, like finding out your partner was the killer all along, which for many causes the end of your company.

So as the witching hour of All Hallows’ Eve approaches and watching the Saw franchise in its entirety ends up on your to-do list, we believe the horror on your TVs can show you how to remove the terror from your business. Don’t believe us? Elite Business heard insights directly from entrepreneurs, which led us to  create ten such examples.

(1) Never go in alone

One of the biggest mistakes people make in scary movies is splitting up or, even worse, starting out on their own. This strategy never ends well in horror flicks and the same is true in business. “At one point in Amsterdamned, the 80s horror flick, a detective who doesn’t like swimming jumps in the water to help his friend and it rings true in business, especially at the beginning,” said Martijn Roordink, co-founder of flexible workplace provider Spaces. “There are times when you’ll need to lean on experts [or business partners] to help you.” Indeed, head honchos shouldn’t be afraid to call their connections – it could be the difference between success and death.

(2) Keep your weapons close

We’ve all seen how the lack of a phone signal or a broken car in the middle of nowhere leads to a gruesome outcome, so in business it’s an area where bosses should ensure they don’t cut corners. It’s surely much easier to slay or escape the attacking zombies when you have a weapon, right? Ensure your tracks are covered so nothing can come back to bite you by having a crisis management system in place to keep those demons at bay.

(3) Too many shocks can rock your startup

If Strange But True taught us anything, it’s that Michael Aspel tells a mean ghost story. But more importantly, the TV show also highlights something that’s true for trading. “Unfinished business can return to haunt you the next day, the day after that and the day after that, in perpetuity,” said Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder and CEO of Time Etc, the virtual assistant platform. “Keep your daily to-do list two or three items long. With a pared down list of tasks and a bit of discipline, you’ll have no choice but to finish the job.”

(4) Learn from your foes

Frightening film fanatic or not, most will agree Scream was iconic. It references other horror flicks, their antagonists and even borrows quotes from Psycho. From the beginning it’s easy to understand how infatuated the killer is with scary movies. And like the masked murderer in Scream, you should take time to study and learn from your competitors. Studying their business model, their payments system and the keywords they use in their marketing campaigns can help you improve – and realise threats before you’re impaled by one.

(5) There’s someone behind you

Things appearing and disappearing in an instant is a common theme in scary films. That’s not a trend you want to witness with your sales. “Your organic rankings or month-on-month profits might have never been higher but don’t dare rest on your laurels and assume things don’t change,” said Jack Bird, SEO specialist at Add People, the digital marketing agency. Rewards and profits are fulfilling but short-lived, just like the few minutes of peace before a beast charges at you. Just watch the final minutes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Descent and you’ll know.

(6) Stay silent to survive

John Krasinski leading his family through abandoned towns in complete silence in A Quiet Place gave everyone goosebumps, as well as a few tips. Being silent can be advantageous. “At its core, the film shows the benefits of being observant and hyper-aware of your external environment – essentially using whatever is learnt as a survival technique,” said Daniel Scott, CEO of CoinCorner, a cryptocurrency firm. Businesses become so preoccupied with their internal affairs they don’t see the monsters coming. Sometimes it pays to remove yourself from a situation and keep the noise down to see what’s happening and understand your market.

(7) Not another mindless zombie

Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street is not your regular villain. He pursues his victims in an unusual way – in their dreams. And just like he found a unique method to capture his audience, so should you. Not by nightmares but through dreams on social media, where you can really connect with your followers. Whether it’s polls on Twitter to keep them engaged or Instagram stories to involve them in your latest product – it makes an impression. Probably best you leave the metal claws at home though.

(8) Dark comedy

Whether it’s You’re Next or the Scary Movie series, their more than fair share of blood is also speckled with bits of humour. In business, tech-heavy and jargon-rich language can be frightening for those on the receiving end of marketing, so including bits of humour may be the way to grab and retain their attention. Whether it’s to woo VCs for funding or another company for a partnership. Entrepreneurs can be technical but keeping it simple, with a laugh or two, can be what gets you ahead.

(9) Beware the boogeyman

Many Halloween films are always brimming with tense, underlying threats – some of which we don’t see until the end. “Some of the problems that entrepreneurs don’t see coming can include cyber risk, banks calling in debts and sudden issues with cashflow [and] this can lead to salaries not being paid or even administration,” said Emma-Jane Packe, managing director of entrepreneur network, The Supper Club. Scares can also come in the form of over-promising suppliers, unreliable staff, fraudulent activity – they’re all nothing less than a nightmare. “For each of these scenarios you need to continually work with your directors to put systems in place to de-risk, protect the company and your team,” Packe added.

(10) Don’t trust the creepy stranger – kill them

The most frustrating things about watching a horror movie is the deadly decisions that characters make when they walk into a cobweb-filled house during a full moon, or go camping in a deserted place. And in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, teenagers pick up a creepy hitchhiker – you can already guess the lesson here. Who you bring into the business can play a huge role in potential success, so smart decisions in hiring are essential. Sometimes it means making challenging employees redundant. You don’t want to end up with low turnover resulting from a poor team.

From not leaving a tombstone unturned to make your startup successful to never assuming the bad guy is dead, horror movies are indeed a treasury of business knowledge. And based on the warning by Loomis in Halloween: “You must be ready for him, if you don’t, it’s your funeral,” we’re sure to say entrepreneurs must be prepared for the worst. Even if it’s an unexpected monster, just grab that baseball bat to fight back with all your might.


Varsha Saraogi
Varsha Saraogi

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