Smart people learn from the mistakes of others, right? That’s why it’s good to look for role models in making mistakes. The bigger the mistake and the following failure, the better. That’s why Darth Vader is of the best teachers. His plans were big: conquer the Galaxy and rule it. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more ambitious goal. We all know how it ended (or if you don’t it’s time to watch the entire saga).

What does Darth Vader have in common with you and your company? Well, the Empire was just another business that wanted to be successful. So do you. By observing all the mistakes that Darth Vader made you can learn what to avoid to make your company more successful. Take a look at this list of Darth Vader’s 5 mistakes that you should avoid while conquering the Galaxy.

1. Low quality of products

Do you remember how accurately Stormtroopers shoot? Let me remind you if you don’t:  they basically can’t shoot at all (at least when they’re chasing Luke and his squad).

Conquering the Galaxy with an army of soldiers who can’t shoot is not an easy thing to do. Neither is developing a business if you offer products of low quality. If you sell mediocre products, people won’t buy them. And even if they do, they will quickly realize that your products don’t work. They will spread the world and won’t buy again. Doesn’t sound like a plan of conquering the galaxy. No matter what you sell – can be physical products, can be serviced, or anything else – provide high quality if you want to be successful in the long term.

2. Not being bold enough

It might sound brutal, but one of the reasons why Darth Vader failed was not killing Luke. He was considering killing Luke but eventually didn’t manage to do that. Do it or not – trying is not enough. Hesitation can destroy your business. If you haven’t watched already, I recommend a brief motivational speech of Shia la Beouf.

It applies to all business activities.

Do you think that adding new products to your offer might result in attracting new customers? Then do it. It does not mean that you should proceed with any decision that comes to your mind, but if you think that something is a good idea and your business will benefit from it, do it. Observe how changes perform and draw conclusions. If they don’t provide expected results, stop it and try something else. Doing nothing is also a blessing for your competitors – they can innovate and attract new customers while you’re busy doing nothing.

Example? Nokia. They created the first smartphone with a touchscreen in 2004 (3 years before iPhone) but then abandoned the project. The result? Apple is the most valuable company in the world (source: http://www.statista.com/statistics/263264/top-companies-in-the-world-by-market-value/ ) and Nokia has been acquired by Microsoft.

3. Not listening to others

Destroying the first Death Star by the rebels was a big loss for the Empire. Many important people were killed and Darth Vader had to rebuild the force of evil after this punch. How did he let it happen? You don’t have to be a genius to realize that leaving an unguarded tunnel leading to the core of your fancy starship is not a safe solution. You just have to listen to people and not kill them for expressing opinions.

Your website is not much different than a starship. There are many things that might not be working as expected. Visitors might be confused, even though your designer did his best designing this website. Flaws you or your coworkers don’t even notice that might be hurting your business. Some might be minor, but some might lead people to not buying anything from you. Example: people can’t find information about shipping cost. For you, it’s obvious where to find it but for your visitors, it’s not. Discovering this problem will lead to fixing the flaw and your sales will increase. You’re one step closer to conquering the Galaxy.

4. Underestimating the power of smaller competitors

One of the biggest mistakes of Darth Vader was underappreciating his competitors. The Rebels didn’t have as advanced technology as the Empire and their army was smaller, but the Empire lost anyway. What’s the lesson for you? Even if you have a well-established brand, be careful. There are dozens of smaller companies doing their best to sell similar products to your audience. Keep a close eye on them – sometimes you can learn a lot about acquiring new customers.

There are many real-life examples showing that bigger companies can implement features known from startups and benefit from that. One of the best: Adobe. This software giant decided to implement a Software-as-a-Service model for users of Creative Suite instead of charging $1900 upfront. The company doesn’t reveal any exact numbers, but the fact is that since moving a big part of its business to SaaS, its shares has tripled (http://www.inc.com/peter-cohan/startups-beware-big-companies-are-learning-to-innovate.html).

Tip: if you want to know more about keeping an eye on your competitors take a look at this article: http://survicate.com/blog/how-to-spy-on-competition/

5. Repeating past mistakes

One of the biggest mistakes of Darth Vader was not learning from his own mistakes. The Rebels destroyed the first Death Star. What did he do? Built a new one. What did the Rebels do? Destroyed it again.

The key to a successful business is iterating. Test one idea and observe the results. If they are negative, stop it and think about improvements. You don’t want to behave like this cat:

darth vader cat

Example: after two weeks of spending money on Facebook ads you realize you’re not anywhere close to reporting a positive ROI. Then stop ads and think. What can you change to improve their performance? If CTR is low, then your ads require changes. Maybe add a more colorful image or a new, catchy headline? Change and test. Is CTR good, but the bounce rate close to 100%? Maybe the landing page doesn’t match the ad? Improve it and test. Is CTR high, bounce rates low, but no one is buying? Then your website might need some improvements (back to point 3). Look for them and implement. Running the same unprofitable campaign with no changes for a long period of time won’t do any good.

Key takeaways

As you can see, observing a  fictional character can give you important lessons about running a real business. Remember about offering products or services of high quality, be bold, listen to others, don’t underestimate your competition and draw conclusions from your own mistakes. Not so difficult, right? True, but applying those simple principles can help you develop your business and eventually rule the Galaxy.

Caveat: if you’re planning to conquer the Galaxy with starships, armies and stuff like that, don’t follow all the tips presented here – I don’t want you to succeed.