What Playing Call of Duty can Teach You About Entrepreneurship

Success is For Students of the Game

There are two things I really enjoy, being an entrepreneur and gaming. Warning — both can irritate my wife. I recently recognized the similarities between Call of Duty and being an Entrepreneur. Both can require money, long nights, and constant effort to get better. Call of Duty is a first-person shooter game that millions of people play. The game is unforgiving but also very rewarding. Let's walk through 7 key lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from Call of Duty.

  1. Forget easy. Entrepreneurs are often looking for shortcuts to wealth, results, and success. Having never played Call of Duty before, I came in at about Black Ops 3. My first experience was to walk a few steps get shot, turn a corner get shot, respawn get shot. After you go 0–30 (0 kills and 30 deaths) you start to reconsider if you are ever going to even come close to being able to play. The bold fact slaps you in your digital face… This is not going to be easy. You have a choice to make, realize it is not for you and quit or get fully committed and put in work.
  2. Master the Basics. The fundamentals are table stakes. You are going into an entire world that you are unfamiliar with and there are other players already there that are better than you. This is true in entrepreneurship as well. Respect the fact that you have work to do and that you aren’t going to just walk to the front of the line. Buying the game is like having a good idea, nobody cares. Your idea, your passion, and your product are not enough to ensure success, they are just a start. You have to learn and earn your right to get on the leaderboard. You must master the basics to create context for your greatness.
  3. Know the map. Maybe the single largest factor to your success in Call of Duty is knowing the maps. Knowing where to go, where not to stand, and where the advantageous spots are can make the difference even if your skill is not as high yet. Entrepreneurs who master the basics, growth-hack, position themselves for leverage, and avoid foolish mistakes are going to succeed more often than not even against better competitors. Immersing yourself in the world you want to operate in is always a first step I take in starting a project. Become a student of your environment and you will be able to unlock your competitive advantage.
  4. Stay Out of the Middle. In Call of Duty most maps have an A,B, and C spot on the map with the B spot in the center. This is where everyone goes and is a great way to get killed quickly because all the traffic goes through there. In business, many people look for the “Big” markets but with them comes a lot of competition. It’s better to dominate and get wins from the sides instead of taking on everyone. Find a lane that is less occupied and dominate it. You can’t be everything to everyone, so stay out of the middle.
  5. Spawn Trap. In Call of Duty you can get to your opponent’s side of the map and pick them off as they respawn in their home base, keeping them from the objectives in games like domination where you must hold points across the map. By disrupting your competition you keep them reacting which means they aren’t forcing you to react to them. You can spawn trap your competition by constantly innovating in their space. This will give you control of the map.
  6. Change Levels. Many players post up to the same spot every time they respawn or they camp in a spot and get a kill then stay there until their enemy knows where they are. Businesses can do the same thing. They have a little success and look to stay with it until it no longer works. A great player finds an advantage and then moves and finds another spot, changing levels constantly to both keep their competition off guard, but also to force them to be agile and to recreate success over and over.
  7. Get Dark Matter Camo. Once a player levels up all the guns in all of the sets in the game they can earn the dark matter camo. This is not easy as there are naturally good weapons and some which are not good at all. Mastering them all is counter-intuitive for people who like to play to their strengths. It is one thing to dominate with a powerful gun that you are good with and another to take a slower or weaker gun that is harder to use and fight against opponents playing with their best. Many entrepreneurs only work within their strengths and stay away from things they are not good at. If you want to go beyond a novel idea or overnight success and actually build a solid business then level up your weak points. Learn everything as it will make you a better overall player and entrepreneur.

There is no better feeling than taking on something that you know will be challenging and sticking with it until you reach the top. Entrepreneurship is a hostile and challenging environment but if you respect it, you can master it. Some people think of games as a waste of time but I totally disagree, they are like all things, simply a challenge.

Love to hear your comments below. What was your favorite tip and what advice would you add to this list whether you have played Call of Duty or not :] Don’t forget to like and share this if you found this valuable. Thanks