Sun Tzu and “The Art of Small Business”

Sun Tsu the Art of WarIf you are not familiar with the book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, it is a book that contains a number of tactics for leaders focused on winning wars. It covers many topics, from readying yourself, mentally, to intimidating your enemy. If not, the image to the right contains a link to the book on

When first approached by Bryan about his post “The Art of Small Business,” admittedly, I was skeptical, at best. While it is clear that businesses must act strategically to “win” in the marketplace, The Art of War” seems to carry that idea that one must destroy their enemy, never to return.

As business leaders, we know that competition in the marketplace is good, for a number of reasons. However, after reading the post and reviewing the infographic he created to go with it, I think that it is a brilliant analogy for business leaders to build their businesses.

Please take a few minutes to review the article, and take a look at the link to the infographic, below. I hope that you will appreciate it as much as I did, and would be willing to share it with your associates.

Both Bryan and I would love to hear your feedback. Please do so here, or in the LinkedIn Group, Better Managed Business, where we discuss topics relating to small business management and resources to help them grow.

Sun Tzu and “The Art of Small Business” | Aepiphanni Business Consulting 1

Warmest regards,


Sun Tzu and “The Art of Small Business”

Is it possible to win against your competition by never fighting them?  According the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, it is not only possible; it’s advisable.  Author of The Art of War, arguably the greatest text on tactical strategy, Sun Tzu teaches that the best way to beat your competition is to subdue them with never fighting them at all.  Today, business leaders apply Sun Tzu’s strategy and tactics to overcome their competition in the business marketplace.

Sun Tzu Says, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles”

SunTzu_smallBusinessSun Tzu is telling us to intensely focus on our incumbent competitors in the market place and to take time to speak to their customers to learn about the competition.  Be doing so, we learn what they are not doing very well.  After we understand the gaps that the competition is leaving unmet we can then focus on filling that need.  Rather than competing in an area where you competitor is superior, ascertain what your business can do better than your competition and focus on that strength.  Do not go head to head on pricing alone as the outcome will most likely be a blood bath in terms on hemorrhaged cash, and most of the time no winners.

Sun Tzu Says, “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”

What are there parallels that can be drawn from military strategy and entrepreneurialism?  Those of us who have ran businesses know the feeling that many times it can be outright war. Business enterprises at their core are competitive with each another. Sun Tzu’s thesis is to “win all without fighting.” We can gain market share without going head on against our competitors.

Team Building

Sun Tzu Says, “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death”

It’s going to be nearly impossible to accomplish anything great by yourself. You are going to need a strong dedicated team to take your organization to greatness. Sun Tzu teaches us that as the leader of your team you must focus on serving your people. He urges us to be empathetic leaders, moreover, if we care about our people they will care about the overall mission and the objectives of the business.   A unified team will be instrumental in success of your company by granting it a real purpose, and why it even exists.

Sun Tzu’s teachings are practical, tactical guidelines that help entrepreneurs and business leaders have clarity of their vision and their mission. While it might seem farfetched for business owners to think of themselves as generals on the battlefield, Sun Tzu’s philosophies are relevant, and are implemented by successful business owners of today and ignored by the unsuccessful, as seen in the following illustration.



Bryan Clayton is a serial Entrepreneur and Co-founder of GreenPal
He helps consumers source lawn care providers via an online marketplace


Aepiphanni is the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results.  We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.

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Rick Meekins

Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.

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