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10 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Squid Game (Plus 1 Bonus Lesson) [SPOILER ALERT]

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It’s the Squid Game fever! Thankfully the entire show takes only 9 episodes because most of us binge watched through! It’s not easy to stop halfway and get on with life with this show. Most of us probably finished this show within 2-3 days. The script, the way the show was directed and the fine acting of the actors made all the sleepless nights worth it. This show is so packed with lessons (as much as bloody gore). Here’s sharing 10 lessons + 1 Bonus for Entrepreneurs. Spoiler alert – if you intend to watch the show, please bookmark this page now and continue reading only after you’re done watching.

1. Be financially prudent

It’s very common to see entrepreneurs get into financial trouble. Many started their business with borrowed money, and some over leveraged. Especially now, with Covid-19, business is bad and loans are easy to get. It takes alot of self control to prevent yourself from spiraling into uncontrollable debt. Living on the brink of financial ruin gets you desperate, and can destroy you.

2. Have the Discipline to Start and Stop

The game “Red Light Green Light” is testing of one’s discipline to stop, while fighting the urgency of time. This is especially relevant for the young entrepreneurs, who bring with them loads of energy, enthusiasm and hopes. The unicorn-wannabes especially. There’s absolutely no time to waste, you need to scale fast, and get more investors coming in, you need to get market share. Sleep is for the dead. Soon, you realize you’re in a dark place without even noticing when you have started to slip in. You get depressed, burnt out, suicidal. Billionaire Elon Mask recently revealed he needs to sleep a minimal of 6 hours a day. The discipline to stop work is as important as the discipline to start work.

3. Stay Focused

You’ve heard a competitor IPO, and you’ve heard another gone bankrupt. Stay focused on your own business. Do not be too emotionally affected by what’s happening around you. You’ve got tough work to do, and stay focused you must.

4. Practice Reverse Thinking

There’s a chinese phrase 逆向思维. It means reverse thinking. Reverse thinking has worked in many situations, and worked in the tug of war game in Squid Game. Instead of pulling back, go forward 3 steps to let your opponents fall in surprise then drag them forward. Some brilliant and innovative strategies can come from reverse thinking. Practicing reverse thinking can also help us steer away from the familiar path and explore alternative possibilities that can lead your business to new horizons.

5. Be the First to Reach Out

Be the first to reach out, to connect, to uplift, help and encourage those in the same industry. As much as they may be fellow competitors, it’s always better to be kind to each other instead of getting bent on killing off every single one of them. Look out for the weaker ones and be nice. What goes around come around, we reap what we sow. Think coopetition.

6. Friends (or spouse) cannot be Business Partners

You may believe your friend (or spouse) makes a great business partner. You’re wrong. Having a friend or spouse as your business partner affects the way you make decisions. Instead of making business-focused decisions, you are more inclined to include personal factors and allow these to take over your logic. Your friend may be experiencing some family problems and need more money, putting you in a bad situation. When both sides start to face problems (and life will throw anything at you anytime!), there will be a battle of power. You lose both the friendship and the business. Sometimes you won’t even know how you got played out, because your friend is intimate with you enough to know your weakness; and will conveniently exploit your weakness when the time of need comes.

7. Luck Plays a Huge Role

Call it luck, divine intervention, God, whatever you like. This uncontrollable aspect plays a huge role in your success and failure. The wrong person won Squid Game. Because the right person ran out of luck and the wrong person got lucky. The one who was supposed to die lived when someone else came to request for his position at the last minute, putting him in a better position for the game. The one who was supposed to thrive died of a flying shattered glass that stabbed her abdomen.

8. Value is more Important than Connection

There’s no point trying to build up your network or connection if you are not adding value at all. By the end of the day, everyone wants to know what value you bring to the table. Get busy building your capabilities to add value and the right connections will come your way. Otherwise, get prepared to get ditched all the time. It’s not a nice feeling at all.

9. Go slow on Unchartered Waters

It’s never profitable to rush into unchartered waters. Go slow, and let others try first. Watch and observe carefully before you make your move. Those ahead of you would have made all the mistakes you never expected to make. The probability of failing is way too high. Be more conservative when it comes to anything shiny and new. Especially when a huge investment is at stake.

10. If you’re a Christian Entrepreneur…

This last one is for the Christian Entrepreneur. It’s really quite entertaining to see this God-relying character in Squid Game. The total hypocrite who only cares for himself, prays for himself and ultimately pushed someone else to his death for this own survival. Soon after that, no prayer of repentance at all but a simple disgusting “God bless me today”. How many times have we seen Christians using the word “blessed” so flippantly, while exploiting the weaker ones around them? It gets tiring and helps nobody. While many Christian businesses hope to use the marketplace as their platform for outreach, it becomes counterproductive when they do not walk the talk.

The Bonus – Squid Game took 10 years…

Squid Game was written in 2008, and only got picked up in 2019. Quoting the script writer: “There were a lot of people who told me that [‘Squid Game’] was a project that was weird and too unrealistic. I continuously got rejected from investors and actors.”

The article mentioned “The constant rejections caused him to believe that such content was “too unfamiliar to the society and culture at the time” and “it was too premature” to introduce it to the audience.”.

If you’re an entrepreneur selling an innovative product or idea, and you’re facing rejections today, you need to know this. “He was even forced to stop writing at some point when he was so cash-strapped that he had to sell his laptop worth US$675 (S$917.12) for money.”

And then, success came. It blew up huge. S.Korea broadband firm sues Netflix after traffic surge from ‘Squid Game’.

The script writer got rejected for a good 10 years and did not give up. He continued to believe that the time will come when there’s better social acceptance. And the time has come for him today.

Your time will come, keep going. 🙂

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