Business or War?
Updated: Jun 5, 2018
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell
There’s a lesson taught in the classic book, The Art of War, which has both nothing to do with and everything to do with business.
The lesson is this: "Every battle is won before you go to war." This is similar to a quote from former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who once said, "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening the axe."
In other words, it's all about preparation. In war, in politics, and of course in business.
During war time, the generals will strategize beforehand and plot out exactly what they're going to do, and where they're going to deploy their advanced weaponry. If they fail to plan, they will plan to fail, as the saying goes.
The same thing is true in business. If you take the time to plan in advance what you're going to do and, ideally, what you're prepared for if things go wrong, the “business battle” will go more smoothly. If you've prepared properly, you won’t necessarily win every battle, but you’ll win the war.
You need to prepare to win the battle of marketing before you actually do the marketing. It's all about preparation. It's the things you do before you actually place the ads or mail the sales letters.
How do you “sharpen the axe?”
That includes attending mastermind events and conferences, learning to write sales copy, sharpening the axe with your education, and enhancing what you know about marketing and sales.
It's knowing that effective marketing isn't just what you're going to sell to a customer the first time, but having your back-end marketing plan already in place. Before you make the first sale, what's your second sale? Do you know that? What's your third sale? What's your entire marketing strategy? How are you going to take that person from an initial sale to a lifelong client who can be worth many thousands of dollars to you?
Napoleon Bonaparte was once asked why he always seemed to know what to say, what to do, how to act. And he said, "It's because prior to every battle and prior to every major event, I spend hours meditating on all the possible outcomes and consequences." He examined all the “what ifs” he could imagine, so when something did happen, he already had a framework in mind that told him exactly what to do. That comes from the process of preparation.
Think through every possible aspect of how you're going to approach your marketplace and your customers. By thinking through the positive and the negative outcomes, you’ll ultimately serve your customer better, and you’ll make more profit for yourself.
Most people aren’t willing to prepare. A lot of people who enter into business are really just chasing cars. They get an idea, they run off with no forethought of what happens, the project gets hard, they're out the door, and they never wind up making any money or doing anything sustaining.
People who are really successful are willing to devote the time, energy, and effort to preparation. And not just preparation, but realistic preparation. In the great Napoleon Hill book, “Think and Grow Rich,” there's something he calls "accurate thinking." You have to avoid what the former U.S. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan used to call "irrational exuberance." You need to prepare, but in an authentic way, not just assuming everything will go well. Because it won’t.
This all comes back to that nasty four-letter word that nobody likes to talk about: work. But that's what separates successful people from the rest. The ability to sit down and focus on the nitty-gritty, the often onerous preparation. Because that's where the money is made. It's in the details. Chance favors the prepared mind. So let me ask you: Are you prepared for the battle?
- Michael Halsey