Lessons from Outer Space: What Aliens Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship

"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like" - Stephen Hawking

From The Day the Earth Stood Still, to District 9 to Independence Day to Encounters. Whether borne out of our love for mystery, fear or obsession for aliens, the proliferation of alien invasion movies is evidence of us humans’ entrenched fascination with extraterrestrial beings.

Much of what we know about extraterrestrial humanoids is steeped in science-fiction film work. However, real life astronauts and scientists such as Steven Hawkins have gone the extra mile to demystify the possible attributes of outer space beings.

So, what has all this got to do with business?

Combining the enthralling odyssey of sci-fi and the wisdom of scientists, entrepreneurs could take away a few lessons from aliens’ behavior and traits.

Mastering your environment can shield you from unwarranted danger

In most alien invasion movies, humans emerge victorious even after a brutal attack by extraterrestrials. The reason why aliens lose the battle is their lack of understanding of our earthly environment.

Whether in business or in an actual battle for survival, mastering your environment allows you to eliminate many of the obstacles that could otherwise endanger your chances of survival.

The most successful entrepreneurs are those who have a firm understanding of their industry, competitors, influencers and the needs of their target audience.

Conducting market research before starting a venture is an effective way to enamor yourself against massive losses. Yet, research does not end at the start-up phase; continuous information gathering enables you to spot new opportunities and maneuver possible dangers.

Attack only when you have a winning plan

3774990617_0261f8a42b_oAliens always seem to attack the biggest and the mightiest target upon their first invasion. Would it not be wise if they attacked a smaller, weaker target before strategizing a plan for the stronger target?

The same rationalization applies in business, especially when trying to take on a competitor. While it is the goal of every entrepreneur to gain leverage over their competitors, going after a competitor without a strategic plan could be disastrous.

It is possible to win over customers without using aggressive tactics against your competitors, especially if the competitor is more established than you are.

An even better approach is to ‘attack’ the soft target—the customer—by understanding their needs and fulfilling these needs adequately.

Technological proficiency can put you ahead of the game

If the movies are anything to go by, extraterrestrials know the power that belies advanced technology. With superior drones, aircrafts and weaponry, they can eliminate vast swathes of their human rivals.

While technology may not help you to squash your competitors, it can bring unprecedented efficiency and help improve productivity in your business.

Access to the right technology can reduce the cost of production, improve product quality, boost customer acquisition, enhance sales and conversions and minimize risk. Stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies and use these to advance ahead of the competition.

Follow up until the deal is done

On their first attack, aliens demonstrate unprecedented tact and aggressiveness.

With their advanced intelligence, ability to explore and travel across the vastness of the universe and their superior technology, they are able to launch what seems like a successful and brutal first attack.

They then usually retreat. And their unravelling begins.

The aliens’ choice to retreat gives humans the window of opportunity to regroup and attack, leading to a victorious end to the bloody battle.

In the same way, it is possible to lose to your competitors when you retreat to your comfort zone and fail to pursue your customers aggressively.

Wildly successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs never once rested on their laurels—Jobs, like Branson, continued to innovate to stay ahead of the competition even when his previous product was incredibly successful.

Continued innovation, an attitude of always wanting to close the deal and a drive to put yourself ahead of the market wave will ensure that your competitors do not attack you unexpectedly.

A backup team will increase your winning chances

The problem with extraterrestrial invaders is that their team is often much smaller. It could be a distinct procreation issue of the alien race, but in warfare, a small team offers very few strategic advantages.

On the contrary, the human race is much larger; a formidable force that can strategize fast, regroup rapidly and attack any invader expeditiously.

That’s the power of a strong, robust team.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey but you do not need to go at it alone. Building your network to include mentors, advisors, supporting peers and family members, connectors, influencers and talented workers creates a formidable front that helps you to charge forward toward success.

It’s Life Jim, But Not as We Know it

Whether aliens emerge victorious or lose miserably, it is undeniable that they are aggressive and tactful, at least most of the time. In addition to aggressively pursuing promising opportunities and applying tactful attacks against soft and hard targets, entrepreneurship requires an ability to remain resilient, to embrace technology, be strategic, and stay agile to remain ahead of the game.

Image of small child shared under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) courtesy of Chris Radcliff,

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