Oct 09, 2014

4 Small Business Lessons from Obi-Wan Kenobi

Running a small business is challenging, but at least your competitor isn’t an endless army of clones lead by your former apprentice who possesses super human telekinesis powers and a weapon that can destroy entire planets. Obi-Wan had a seemingly impossible dream like you, but he shows how to make it happen while teaching some important lessons you can use in your business.

Get Together a Good Team

Obi-Wan had the first great attribute of a leader: knowing your limitations. He had an impossible goal of rescuing a princess and taking down an evil empire. He realized that he could not do it himself. He needed help.

The team Obi-Wan put together was not at first glance what you would call a dream team. Han Solo was a greedy smuggler. Luke Skywalker was a whinny orphan. Chewbacca had major speech impediments (along with anger issues).  Obi-Wan was able to see potential where others would miss it and used each persons’ skills to fill important roles.

It is important to note that none of these players knew their own potential, or even what they could accomplish together, but Obi-Wan saw their potential.

Set Small Goals

Obi-Wan was a perfect example of setting small achievable goals that lead to larger accomplishments. His to-do list would look something like this:

  1. Recruit a team
  2. Get transportation
  3. Rescue princess
  4. Cultivate team through “Force” team building exercises
  5. Meet up with Rebellion
  6. Help team take down The Republic assisted by direct mentoring

Your end goal may be big, but setting small goals can get you to the finish line if you focus on one at a time.  In small businesses it can feel like you’re stuck in garbage compactor 3263827 with the walls caving in on you. Accomplishing small achievable goals may be your ‘only hope’ for survival.

Know When to Back Off

Obi-Wan Kenobi knew recruiting a good team and cultivating their abilities made the combined efforts of the group better than his own individual contribution. Not only did he let the team take on responsibilities, he knew when it was the right time to bow out and let the team accomplish great things.

The statement of “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine,” was a promise that his team could do more than he could alone. Your team needs to carry on your vision even when you’re not there. If you’ve done things right your business may even perform better when you’re not around too.

Find Small Business Funding

This might be one of the least focused on parts of the movies, but one of the most important parts of your small business.  To get things moving Obi-Wan had to find some cash to get transportation, without it nothing could happen.

At the time the best option they had was to sell Luke’s X-34 Landspeeder. The Landspeeder got them only part of the money they needed. Obi-Wan had to rely on the future promise of funding (from the Rebellion) to get the rest of the funds for Solo.

Just like Obi-Wan you may have to get creative with how you get the working capital you need to fund your business. You have to look to all the different possible sources: friends, family, banks, investors, lenders and even your own X-34 Landspeeder replica you built in the backyard.

Heed Obi-Wan’s warning, “beware the dark side,” when looking at financing. There are costs associated with every type of small business financing whether it is an interest rate or partial company ownership. Do your homework and find the right partner.

Building and maintaining a small business is not an easy task. Don’t try to do it own your own. Take Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lead and work towards your American Dream. May the Force be with you.


Star Wars sources: http://starwars.wikia.com/

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About the author

Adam Shiflett
Adam has a passion for telling stories with data. He has helped organizations identify opportunities to improve their business operations through collecting and analyzing data. He contributes concrete approaches that help improve businesses' performance and grow their bottom line.


  1. [“Obi-Wan was able to see potential where others would miss it and used each persons’ skills to fill important roles.”]

    Since when?

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