Business Lessons From ‘Art Of War’ Strategy(Sun Tzu)— Part 02

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05 — A war’s strategy is to “Hold Out Baits” — Sun Tzu

Business too practises a strategy of holding out baits — A telecom service provider gave away free data service for 6 months — Now we are addicted to Online TV shows, HD movies, Video calling and we are ready to pay a small fee so that we could continue the habit. “HABIT” — Most of the product manufacturers/service providers are devising strategies to tap into the user’s habit loop by anchoring the product to a specific trigger.

06 — In a war, attack your enemy where he is unprepared(Where there is the least resistance) — Sun Tzu

March swiftly to places where we are unexpected — Surprise your enemy. Do not lay siege to the walled cities, Balk the enemy’s plans. In war, if the enemy is of superior strength, evade him.

07 — A general who wins a battle makes more calculations, count the costs of men, chariots, other essentials before going for battle — Sun Tzu

Similarly, estimating costs in business correctly is important as it helps everyone be committed to the business. The accuracy of your cost estimation process can make or break your business’s success. The cost estimates provide cushioning for unexpected scenarios that may arise. A business need to understand the cost of Key Activities, Core Capabilities, Key Partners, Key Resources, Proposed Value Propositions, Proposed Customer Relationships, Customer acquisition, Customer Retainership, Inventory, Opportunity, Market Traction, Scaling, Reliability, Sustainable Competitive Advantage, Distribution Channels, time duration before prototyping a product or service.

See the plant before it germinates and grows — Sun Tzu.

08 — Do not fight battles to participate — Fight battles to win — Sun Tzu

Prolonged warfare provides no benefits — Weapons grow duller, too much money will be spent, prices increase, soldiers loose strength over a period of time and the economy weakens. If you fight the battle to win, you won’t hesitate to make decisions and hard choices. If you Fight the battle to participate — you would be defensive, react to situations than being pro-active. You would fail to make any hard choices.

09 — The general who understands the evils of war can only understand and appreciate the profitability of the war — Sun Tzu

He who understands the negatives of a business strategy, who faced hard times in business would appreciate the positivity & profitability of a business, would value his customers, would respect the good times. We understand our strengths and weaknesses only in times of adversity.

Steve jobs “I have always found is that you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out what to sell. I have made this mistake probably more than anybody else. I have got the scars to prove it. So we started with: what incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?”

Ben Horowitz says, “When things go wrong, nobody cares. No one is going to step in and rescue you. You need to get real. Spend zero time on what you could have done and to concentrate all of your efforts on finding that one seemingly impossible way out of your current mess”. Hard times had taught Ben Horowitz about decision making, hiring right people, how to be an effective wartime CEO, laying off people who trusted you, building a strong team, mental strength, focus, building the trust, allocating the responsibilities and burden of business, the meaning of business’s existence, priorities, taking care of the people, building a culture and a right behaviour.

10 — He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks — Sun Tzu.

To kill the enemy, rouse an emotion in your soldiers — unify them through emotion.

Written by

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at or

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