Breath of the Wild: Four Entrepreneurial Lessons We Can All Learn From Zelda

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Nintendo’s Switch console got a breath of fresh air with the release of a perennial favorite license: Zelda. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” earned an impressive aggregate score of 97 on Metacritic and quickly sold well over one million copies, making it one of the best reviewed games in history—and driving sales for the new console through the roof. That’s approximately 80% of Switch owners and a huge success for the struggling video game icon.

Any entrepreneur can point to surface reasons for this success, but Zelda’s link to the past goes deeper. To dig out the real lessons from this historic launch, we’ll need to follow Link’s footsteps and delve further into the adventures of these beloved characters.

“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone”

Uttered by a wise old bearded man, these are the first words gamers see when beginning their adventures with Link in the original “Legend of Zelda.” In both the original and “Breath of the Wild,” this man is the first of many friends, companions, and compatriots you encounter on your journey.

This warning tells us to prepare for an adventure that’s not as straightforward as originally thought. Entrepreneurs make the same frightening discovery when starting their business adventures.

We often go in expecting a happy, linear path to success. After all, nobody’s business plans and tracking databases include the dozens of challenges you’ll face in the first 90 days—much less the next year.

Legal issues, licensing obstacles, inventory problems, and more start piling up, and we soon learn nobody can make it alone. We rely on others—whether co-workers, employees, peers, or even vendors and contractors—to be successful.

Use What You’ve Got

In the early stages of “Breath of the Wild,” Link finds himself facing enemies with more health and stamina, forcing him to confront opponents without the use of suitable weapons, armor, or supplies for the task. Instead, he must use the environment to survive, dodging and avoiding enemies or taking them out using boulders and other creative approaches. While he may start small, understanding his environment and working through slow, steady improvement eventually transforms Link into a true hero.

When entrepreneurs start out, they’re often smaller and less equipped than the competition. This leaves them vulnerable to devastating hits that a much larger business could brush off.

Small businesses need to be nimble, ready to pivot to a new strategy at any given moment in order to get ahead of the competition. Resourcefulness trumps resources quite often.

Keep Getting Back Up

No matter the skill or strength, an entrepreneur must be prepared for the fight. “Breath of the Wild” gives gamers numerous chances to prepare for any upcoming battle. If we fail, we’re given a chance to restart, learn from our mistakes, and try again. Life doesn’t reset and continue like video games, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned.

There are no do-overs in business—not without ramifications, at least. I’m also not suggesting you continuously pour all your resources into a failed project. Still, every time we suffer a loss, we must reassess the scenario, learn from what didn’t work, and tackle the next problem with that knowledge from the past at our backs.

Regardless of which direction we move forward in, we’re gaining experience points and leveling up along the way.

Never Stop Learning

During the game, Link learns he’s lacking not only strength, but also the skills necessary to get ahead. Any wannabe entrepreneur can come up with an idea, but only real entrepreneurs roll their sleeves up and put in the work necessary to get things done. In doing so, we learn valuable insights and perspectives that simply aren’t available to those who’ve never done it before.

“Breath of the Wild” is the first successful game on the new Switch and the last on the older Wii U console. It represents a transition for the company, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé is already making plans for the Switch based on lessons learned from past failures. The themes running throughout the fabled Zelda series are reflected in the history of the company itself.

The business world isn’t exactly a game, but many aspects of it are gamified. By constantly keeping up with the instruction manuals, walkthroughs, tips, tricks, and other guides, you’ll become a better player — without needing to spend a fortune in rupees on the latest equipment.

Link is a true hero, and you can accomplish everything he does. Either buy “Breath of the Wild” and experience Nintendo’s story or start a business and write an adventure of your own. Regardless of which path you choose, be prepared to finish what you start. And understand the journey is its own reward.

Q Manning is CEO of Rocksauce Studios, which builds mobile apps.

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