SUMMARY: Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola. McDonald’s vs. Burger King. Pizza Hut vs. Dominos. Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts. Uber vs. Lyft. Who doesn’t love a great business war? When two big brands go to battle, some great stories emerge. Business wars are battles, every bit as intense as when the nation goes against a nation.
What’s really interesting about business wars, however, is the fact the same strategies which military leaders have used for centuries, work in business wars as well. In particular, military strategists have long studied the Chinese general Sun Tzu, who lived and waged war sometime around 500 B.C. Even though he included tips about chariot-fighting which might not be all that relevant or useful today, much of what he wrote applies to business wars.
Experience is the greatest teacher. If you want to wage and win a business war, look to the valuable strategic lessons of history’s greatest military strategists. You might be fighting for market share rather than your life, but careers and livelihoods are on the line.
The 9 Principles of Business Wars
1. Never expect a warm welcome from other players when you start a war.
2. Being first to market is not as key as striking at the right moment.
3. It’s logistics and the strength of your supply chain that wins wars, not rousing speeches or great leaders.
4. Positioning your business in the spot that matters most is very important.
5. Be nimble, and ready to change whenever and wherever the market goes: nothing is forever.
6. Look for a single, timely stroke which makes competitors irrelevant.
7. Be willing to be ruthlessly deceptive if that’s what it takes to win.
8. The best marketing is to give your customers a product they believe in.
9. There is always business to be done — even in the worst of times.