Many times business has been characterized as a type of war with companies hitting the consumer battlefield to kill the competition, capture markets, exploit resources and reap the spoils of victory into the coffers of the victor’s balance sheet. War is, in fact, an excellent teacher for business but in a very different way.
The Chinese General Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, the oldest military treatise in the world, sometime between 400 and 320 BCE. It is still considered today one of the most important reads for any entrepreneur or business executive. If you intend to run a company, read it!
We all know that you can do everything right and still come up short, as this is the nature of both business and war, but you must still do everything right if you intend to win. The first step is without a doubt the most critical of them all and will predict with uncanny accuracy your chances of winning or losing.“It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which on no account can be neglected. PLAN!” - Sun Tzu
In fact, success is predetermined and I, or more importantly, an investment committee, can predict your success by reading your business plan. You may not see the correlation between a piece of paper plagued with assumptions and forecasts and the actual commercial success of a product or service based on your innovative and brilliant ideas. Yet, Sun Tsu’s rules have held fast for over 2,350 years and I have found them to be true throughout my short lifetime.“The general who wins a battle makes many calculations before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory and few calculations to defeat.” - Sun Tzu
In other words, don’t go to war or into business unless you know you will win beforehand. This means a comprehensive understanding of the market, its needs versus it desires (they are different), the competition, and your strengths and weakness.
This is your plan and you are the entrepreneur and the general. Therefore, you must be evaluated as a commander and a leader of your company and your team. “Does the commander stand for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness,” Sun Tzu would ask. He would also want to know if the commander has built a great team of officers, understands their rank and roles, has created a system that keeps them supplied, fed and motivated, and has control over the expenditures. “He who knows these five elements will be victorious, he who knows them not will fail.”
Now that you have that brilliant idea, the killer app, the industry innovation or the product or service I can’t live without, it is time to start the hard work – planning. Remember King Richard III, in the heat of battle, offered his Kingdom for horse. Where will you be getting your horse?
As read on Startupbootcamp.