Strategy Tips for Small Business Owners from 500 BC.

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In the business world, conditions rarely remain the same for long. Especially in our time, the rapid advance of technology coupled with the aftermath of a recession has created a pitching field that small business owners must be able to fluidly adapt to. For the resourceful, these turbulent times can even be a blessing in disguise, creating the openings they need to break into and disrupt markets. Coincidentally, small business owners are encouraged to stay on the cutting edge, always listening to the newest advice from leaders in their industries and scrambling to adapt their wisdom to their own way of doing things. However, before our time, in fact, thousands of years ago, strategy and fluid tactics also existed and were cataloged into a famous manual, “The Art of War” by the legendary tactician Sun Tzu. To this day, small business owners can gain insight on how to remain flexible and ready to take advantage of each situation.

“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” Sun Tzu widely recommended subtlety and careful, seemingly effortless execution as a path to victory in war. In the world of modern business, this lesson still rings true. It may seem that successful businesses are operating on an almost too simple level, but in reality, to create a simple system that works well takes a lot of thought and fine tuning. Something that is truly done well often seems effortless, but don’t be fooled into lowering your own efforts. Chances are good a lot more went in to a “simple” idea than is immediately apparent, and creativity and adaptability should never fall to the wayside.

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” Picking your battles, so to speak, is another important factor in the business world. Choosing to move into a market that is already strongly dominated by a competing brand is a foolish move if your business does not have the resources that it needs to successfully compete. Knowing the difference between a real opportunity and a waste of time is a skill. More often than not, small business owners will identify a good idea and be tempted to put it into action right away. Be honest with yourself; if you don’t have the strength to make a move, then wait until the time is right or focus on improving what you have.

“Quickness is the essence of the war.” The speed with which your small business can adapt is a distinct advantage, especially when competing against larger and often more well established corporations. As the field of business is ever changing to accommodate for economic influences, new technologies, and changing consumer demands, being nimble puts you ahead of the crowd and gives you the first crack at a ripe new opportunity. Not only is speed a boon when competing for a market, but it can also help when going after lucrative corporate contractsSpeed can be a calling card for your business, and also play a role in your marketing.

“To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.” Simply put, thinking outside of the box, both on your part and on the part of your employees, will put you in an advantageous position. Often, business owners won’t lack for creative thinking, but will struggle with keeping track of and pursuing worthwhile ideas. Organizing your thoughts and revisiting promising breakthroughs can allow you to more effectively perceive positive opportunities.


Photo Credit to Graham Styles on Flickr 

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