Squid Game and Its Lessons on Entrepreneurship

Squid Game

A life-or-death competition can tell you a lot about how fit you are to lead a business.

With the massive media buzz the South Korean series “Squid Game” has been getting, you would have to live under a rock to not know about it. It is so popular that a South Korean broadband firm has sued Netflix over the surge in network traffic

The lawsuit and the craze for making your own Dalgona candy have definitely taken social media by storm. Yet, there is a lot more to take away from Squid Game, especially for startups and those who are planning to launch their own businesses. Here are some tips that an entrepreneur can pick up from the show (PS: this article is heavy on spoilers, so readers beware!).

Be Patient

Dalgona candy game courtesy of Netflix’s YouTube Channel

Patience is an important virtue for all entrepreneurs. You need to remember that getting your dream startup up and running will take time. You must take stock of the effort you have put in so far to determine your future course of action. Keep in mind to not only work hard, but also work smart.

Sometimes, you may feel frustrated with the amount of time it is taking for you to see the fruits of your hard work. Whenever that feeling arises, take a look at Squid Game’s protagonist Seong Gi-hun for inspiration. His patience saves his life several times in the show, and it’s best shown during the Dalgona candy game. 

The game requires players to carve a shape out of solidified sugar candy, the Dalgona candy, (as pictured above) without breaking it. The game masters have provided them with just a needle to get the job done. The more complex the shape, the harder it is to whittle it out. Seong Gi-hun ends up getting the umbrella shape, which is the hardest to carve out. 

While others around him are being shot for breaking their candies, he is sweating heavily and his hands are trembling under the pressure. Sweating and holding the candy under the light makes him realize that licking it is a better solution than carving it out with the needle. He remains patient and eventually comes up with a smart solution, while others are rushing and breaking their shapes. This shows us the significance of taking mindful yet dynamic action

Establish trust

Tug-of-war game courtesy of Netflix’s YouTube Channel

As an entrepreneur, you must realize that it is nearly impossible to achieve your dreams alone. Thus, you must build a trustworthy team for your startup to reach its full potential. The right team consists of members that complement each other’s skills

For instance, in the tug-of-war game, Seong Gi-hun’s team relies on the knowledge and experience of the old man Oh Il-nam to position themselves on both sides of the rope to strengthen their grip. Seong Gi-hun, out of his kind-hearted nature, has teamed up with him right from the start. Having Oh Il-nam on the team has helped him cross this game and the one that follows it as well.

Trust goes both ways in a relationship. If you trust your team, they will trust you back, and they will, in turn, become more committed to the team’s goals. We see this play out in the tug-of-war game when Cho Sang-woo, the unofficial leader of Seong Gi-hun’s team, asks them to take steps forward instead of pulling the rope. Although they have expressed fear of losing the game initially, they have decided to believe in his decision and ultimately win the game.

Be Agile

Red light, Green light game courtesy of Netflix’s YouTube Channel

Entrepreneurs need to be agile and flexible to adapt to changing business landscapes. To do so, you must constantly experiment and make changes to fit the needs of your customers. When conducting experiments, you must have a clear idea of what success looks like and be quick to discontinue an experiment if it does not meet that criteria. 

In the Red light, Green light game, Cho Sang-woo is quick to adapt and realizes that standing behind another player prevents the motion-detecting doll from catching him. Other players who are not as quick or frozen in fear end up losing their lives. His actions show us the importance of experimenting. For Sang-woo, it is his life that is on the line., For an entrepreneur, it would be their business that is at stake. 

Besides being an eye-opening take on society, Squid Game also teaches you what it takes to succeed when launching your business. It gives you two drastically different characters, namely Cho Sang-woo and Seong Gi-hun, with one being more calculative and the other being an empath. When combined, they feature all the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.

Header image courtesy of Squid Game’s IMDb page

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