I am not going to claim to be the first to have read the Art of War and looked at it from a business/entrepreneurial point of view. However, if you haven’t read the Art of War this can still benefit you and maybe I have a view that you haven’t seen before.
Sun Tzu wrote the Art War to best entail how to wage war. The book is described as being the path to safety or ruin. Inside the book, Sun Tzu outlines the path to ensure your victory. Companies can be seen as going to war with each other in our modern world.
Sun Tzu states “Ensure Success by attacking areas that are undefended.” Where is your enemy weak? Where don’t they have a presence? Do we often think of this in business? I believe a more common thought is where is my competitor and how I can I be there too. While an easier route to start with is likely selling where your competition is not. Which comes into his ideas about appearing where you are not expected. By going where your customers are but not where your competitors are you can capitalize on being seen by a different subset of the market.
You can do this with partnerships. Find a company doing business in the same demographics as you are and create a plan to mutual benefit. When your partner sells something they include an ad for your product. When you sell something you include an ad for their product. In essence, you are sharing each other’s customer base without competing. Ensure success by attacking where the enemy is weak. Attack where they have to presence.
Sun Tzu states that “A Skillful fighter seeks battles they know they can win.” We often believe that there are no guarantees in business. However, if you craft your sales and marketing correctly you can come out to metrics and make decisions based on them guaranteeing that you know how much you have to spend to “win” and where to spend it and what the outcome should be based on past results.
Another important lesson from Sun Tzu is that you are not fit to wage war on unfamiliar territory. If you have no knowledge of where you are selling or advertising than you are wasting your time. Research pays off. Finding experts pays off.
Sun Tzu devotes time to discuss the organization and the importance of avoiding a disorganized structure. This is because if you are at work and there is disorganization you will essentially lose the war. Have you ever worked in a disorganized company? It’s not a good place to be. All functions take longer than necessary and the customer gets neglected and will go to your competitors.
The last Point I want to bring up from Sun Tzu is his saying of, “Look at your soldiers as your children and they will follow you to the deepest valleys. Look at them as your sons and they will follow you to death.” This is how you keep good employees. You treat them well. Then if you have a problem, if your company is struggling, and you respect your employees and care for them and they care for you then you will have an astronomically higher chance of getting through it as a team opposed to seeing all your employees leave the company because it’s expected to fail. The more people like you the more they will go through with you. Startup’s are hard. It’s an uphill battle pushing a round stone. Often times you need a good team to achieve your goals.
Approaching situations tactically and mindfully is important in business and war. Hopefully, this overview has helped to give you some idea of how The Art of War could benefit you. It is not an overly long book and overall a very good change of space if you are reading about business or marketing. A change of pace is good and The Art of War just might help you make better decisions.