Why Titanic is the Perfect Metaphor for Business

Is your business unsinkable?

Matt Saunders
4 min readSep 28, 2020


When Titanic set out on its famously doomed maiden voyage back in 1912, the world had scarcely seen anything like it. This was a vessel that set new standards in size and luxury. Even the lower class (or “steerage”) passengers were impressed by the standard of their accommodation.

But more than this, symbolically Titanic was the beast that would conquer the oceans, to finally hail man victorious in the battle against nature.

F.G.O. Stuart (1843–1923) / Public domain

But, on April 15 1912, the “unsinkable” ship hit an iceberg and sank, taking down more than 1,500 people with it.

A number of factors contributed to the disaster. Poor planning and arrogance, as much as simple bad luck, all played their part. Here are some observations from the story of Titanic and how its lessons can be applied to business today.

Lesson #1: Be pragmatic and always have a backup plan

Titanic infamously went to sea with only enough lifeboats for half of the passengers on board. There were a number of reasons for this but it can partly be attributed to the popular opinion of the day: engineers were more interested in building unsinkable ships than putting practical safety measures in place if things go wrong. It’s a noble ambition but it sealed the fate of many on that night in 1912.

If you’re shocked by this, I invite you to take a look at your own lifeboat situation. Are you trying to build an unsinkable ship? The truth is that in business things will go wrong so instead of trying to become indestructible, accept that you’re not and plan for when your iceberg comes along. In a practical sense this could involve ensuring you have a support network, building in down-time, not placing all your eggs in the basket of one huge client and having 6 month’s of cash reserves in the bank.

Don’t go to sea without enough lifeboats.

Lesson #2: Take your problems head-on

One of the unfortunate twists in the story of Titanic comes when we learn of how the vessel struck the iceberg.

Due to poor visibility on the night of the disaster, the crew were delayed in…



Matt Saunders

Web developer, writer and business coach for freelancers