How to plan for your business future
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
With books like the "Prince" and "The Art of War", business has always been influenced by military strategy.
While these works are definitely essential to business, they may be outdated in terms of business warfare today.
Today's business includes cell phones, computers, organizations that span across multiple geographic locations, and non-traditional marketing techniques like social media.
The book of five rings by Miyamoto Musashi is a classic work on samurai sword fighting strategy which can provide valuable insight into modern business strategy.
One interesting concept from the book of five rings is ring composition.
This refers to how you organize your troops around an enemy castle for attack or defense.
For example, if the goal was to take over a website, one possible ring composition could be to send out an army of press releases to all media outlets, spread the word on social media, and hire a high profile blogger to write about your business.
Since ring composition refers to the troops around an enemy castle, business owners are able to organize their business in the same way.
It's important to remember that these troops are always available to come in when needed.
For example, you may have a business consultant for marketing and business development, but your business still needs strategic business planning.
The business consultant is in the marketing and business development ring while the business planning ring is where you will be defending your castle.
You can also use this idea of rings composition for hiring staff members.
For example, I have a lawyer who I can call up if I need help with contracts or other legal issues outside of my expertise, but I also have someone who manages my day-to-day.
Attack or retreat?
Another challenge in business is knowing when to attack or retreat.
When you only have five units left but the company across from you has ten units, it may be time for battle even though you are at a disadvantage.
On the other hand, it could be better to back off so you can build up your forces before attacking again.
There are no hard and fast rules for business strategy.
If you're up against a business with greater resources, it might be better to attack and try to win quickly so they don't have time to mount a comeback.
On the other hand, if you've got more resources than your foes, patience and guile may get you even better results in the long run.
The book of five rings also addresses handling conflict with business partners.
This is something that comes into play when doing business with another person or organization who desires different things than yourself.
The most effective way to deal with this situation is not through negotiation but by recognizing your differences, developing your business relationship out of respect for the other partner, and choosing not to pursue business with that person again if it's still a problem.
The book of five rings teaches business owners about handling conflicts with business partners and keeping business relationships separate from personal relationships.
It also teaches business owners how to stay committed to a project even when they are at a disadvantage.
I highly recommend business owners to read The Book of Five Rings as a strategy guide because it can be very insightful into business operations.
The book of five rings can be difficult to understand without an understanding of the historical context in which it was written (Samurai Japan).
However, business ideas like ring composition, when to attack or retreat, and conflict resolution are all things that modern business owners should consider as they look for ways to improve themselves.