Star Trek Voyager Crew Fluffy the FelineThousands of light years from home.

No back-up.

Limited resources.

Scary bad guys with superior weapons.

Is this the plot of Star Trek: Voyager, or a day in your small business?

Both! I’m light years from my old corporate life. I don’t have the bench strength of hundreds or even thousands of colleagues, and limited resources would be a step up from my current supply. Bad guys? Visit my gallery of villains for just a glimpse at the bad guys small business owners face.

Right now I’m rediscovering the Voyager series with my husband and daughter, who are first time viewers. I was still in a corporate role when it originally aired, so the intriguing corollaries to being an entrepreneur are a new experience.

Ready to find out what Star Trek: Voyager has taught me about small business? Set your phasers to stun, and hold onto your communicator.

Star Trek Voyager Small Business Lessons On Going it Alone

This post is part of the awesome Word Carnival. Click the link to read more posts on this month’s theme: Close (Biz) Encounters of the Sci-Fi Kind.

Be Open to Unusual Alliances (with a Scorpion Failsafe)

Alternate Title: Don’t trust a Borg leopard to change its spots. Keep a tranquilizer gun on hand.

In an unprecedented move, Captain Janeway strikes an uneasy alliance with the Borg. She needs safe passage through their space, and they need human innovation to defeat a powerful enemy.

A Star Fleet captain made a deal with the Borg. Why not just summon the devil himself? How could this even be considered? How could this efficient, soulless, collective be trusted?

The question for Janeway was not if the Borg could deliver on their end of the bargain, but if they could be trusted to keep up their end once their enemy was defeated. To make it work Captain Janeway implemented a “trust but verify” approach. A poison pill, or as Chakotay called it, Scorpion, failsafe was put in place. When the Borg tried to renege on the deal, scorpion was activated, and the crew was saved.

Keep an open mind regarding unconventional partnerships for your small business. Get all agreements in writing, and include an exit strategy. Who knows, you may get safely through enemy territory AND gain a crew member like Seven of Nine!

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Join the Dynamic Duo, Laura Petrolino and yours truly, every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EST for the online TV show Call a Biz Hero.

Guest expert interviews plus fellow entrepreneurs in our the Kryponite Coffee Talk chat room. Add it to your calendar now!


You Can’t Avoid Holodeck Technology Problems

Alternate Title: Why do people keep using the holodeck when past “glitches” have resulted in life threatening problems?

From the time holodecks were introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, holodeck malfunctions became a plot device. Safety protocols off, aliens in the holodeck, holodeck characters run amuck,…

The holodeck became the “redshirt” of newer installments in the Star Trek universe. Why even have a holodeck with all those problems?

The Number Muncher Star Trek Red ShirtIn Voyager the holodeck serves a variety of functions. The crew often uses it for running simulations to test new technology. Holo technology allowed the ship to have a doctor when the flesh and blood one died. It also provides some much needed R&R for a crew that is tens of thousands of light years from home.

Bottom line – the benefits of using the holodeck are worth the risks.

Technology in small business is no different. 95% of the time technology works perfectly. It makes your business run more efficiently and more profitably.

Oh but that other 5%.
Webinars gone awry. Files that didn’t save. Blog posts that don’t publish. From an outsiders perspective wouldn’t the question be the same as the holodeck one? Why keep using it?

We should only use technology when it supports our business and our bottom line. If the holodecks ran amuck 50% of the time how often do you think they’d get used? If they provided little value why would anyone use them?

Run your holodeck diagnostic against the technology you use. Does it function correctly the vast majority of the time? Is it contributing to your profit and success? If not, it’s time to take it offline.

Use Scarcity to Inspire Innovation

Alternate Title: Hair pasta is just an expression, right?
I love Italian food, especially spaghetti. But after an episode where Neelix (the alien cook) serves up “pasta” that really IS made from animal hair I took a break. I just kept imagining a mouth full of human hair. ICK!

Once I got past the ick factor though, I realized that if I were stranded far away from any source of real pasta, I would consider alternatives. What if the taste and texture were very similar to real angel hair pasta? Would I give up a favorite dish because of my narrow mindedness?

While some Trekkies disapproved of Neelix’s character, I found him refreshing. As a former junk dealer / scavenger cum Delta Quadrant guide, Neelix was used to making do. Ships weren’t bright and shiny, with limitless replicator rations in his world. Scarcity was the norm.

I started my professional career in a large corporate environment. The equivalent of bright, shiny, and new, with full replicator access. When I first made the transition to entrepreneur it was hard to change that mindset. To remember that I couldn’t just dock at a Star Fleet base to resupply and repair any damages.

Embrace your inner Neelix. Look for creative ways to use your resources and make them stretch farther.

Final Thoughts

What is the top business lesson that you’ve learned from Star Trek?

For Trekkies – can you also share when you started referring to Star Trek for business insights? For non-Trekkies – is it legitimate to use fictional characters with phasers as role models in business?

Nicole Fende is The Numbers Whisperer® and author of How to be a Finance Rock Star: The Small Business Owner’s Ticket to Multi-Platinum Profits. You can listen to her live on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. CST on Finance Rock Star Radio. Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. CST she co-hosts the live TV Show Call a Biz Hero with Laura Petrolino.