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Want to Become A Better Entrepreneur? Play Chess

By Rafi Chowdhury
Business.com / Entrepreneurship / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

In this post, I will share some insights with you of the many striking similarities between entrepreneurship and the game of chess.

It may only sound weird if you haven’t really tried your hand at chess.

For those who love chess will be the quickest to realize how strikingly similar it is to entrepreneurship.

And it is not just one similarity they have; there is a gamut, and apparently, there is no rocket science behind it.

Well, that doesn’t mean that everyone who excels in playing chess, should be an entrepreneur. But it sure implies the case otherwise that every entrepreneur who does know chess sure knows the craft of business well.

Perhaps, this is exactly what Travis Kalanick, CEO, and Founder of Uber, was heard telling the audience at a convention in IIT Bombay, at the break of the present year. Investors should learn how to play chess, or so he said. Why did he say so? This article is going to give you ample evidence on why.

So, here is why they are so strikingly similar:

SWOT Is What Both Are Based On

Okay, when it comes to business, you know that SWOT analysis forms the sound foundation; and that the analysis must never be stopped.

Expanded as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis, this is a well-rounded one. Both chess and business operate upon gauging these four areas. In the former, one makes a move only after deciding the army one has; which chessmen are going to give the player away; the opportunities it has to kill the other army and conquer the king; and what threats will be likely to stare in the face in doing this.

A businessperson will always move ahead in doing any kind of business only after determining the resources that one has; the things in which the venture as whole lacks; and how it seizes the opportunities after minimizing the risks.

If this is not followed in both the disciplines, the result is doom.

The Goal is the Driving Force

Goal! To vanquish the rival king; to sustain the business (initially) and to reach a certain point of success is the aim. The objective is always needed. Without it, the entire endeavor is a wild goose chase.

In the pursuit of this goal, all the smaller things need to be done. For e.g., at a game of chess, it is immaterial if you have slain the knight, or the queen, or the entire army when all you have to do is slay the monarch. Once you know what to get, you will also decide how to get it.

In an enterprise, if you know that you have to reach the growth of, say two to three percent in the next five years span, you will do all the other things that a business necessitates, in the pursuit of this goal. You cannot get lost in the details; you have to keep the bull’s eye in mind. That is how it goes.

You’ve Got to Outdo the Opponent and Yourself

Neither is about thinking what your opponent is most likely to do. Both are about thinking that and two steps ahead.

Let’s look at it this way you plan to slay a pawn and get to the knight, to slay it as well. But you must know if another pawn is going to come and get you; because that is the obvious move. You must think beyond that. “What next?” is, what you must think of.

As in the case of business too, you must plan two steps ahead. You launch a product or a service and just wait for the response? Absolutely not! Not only would you pre-anticipate the reaction of the consumers but also that of your competition.

Having done that, you will make some premises and make some strategies based on them as a follow-up. Even once you have made that profit and achieved that goal, you must keep thinking out of the box to keep yourself ahead of anyone else in the field, as in the case of the subsequent move in the game of chess.

So, in this process, you not only end up outdoing the opponent, but also yourself.

Kill or Get Ready to Be Killed

It is a vile battlefield. If you do not kill the enemy, you get killed instead. Whether it is the rival emperor or the competitor, it must be killed ethically if you wish to be the victor. To be honest, there is no other choice. And not only that, there are going to be bad pawns and employees that may have to be sacrificed and sacked respectively in order to achieve your goals.

If you do not do that, you shall be slain, and the enemy’s flag shall be hoisted. As simple as that.

Time and Cash

All rules, all moves, and all trickeries left apart, time is one factor that ultimately decides your fate. Even with a full army intact, you could still lose. How? If time runs out, you will be going home without anything.

When it comes to an entrepreneurial venture, cash is the same as time, no matter how well you look in the market, if your cash is gone; if you are not making profits, your game is over. In both the cases, none, absolutely none can rescue you.

You’ve Got to See the Big Picture

Here is what. Looking at the big picture works in both the cases.

No seasoned player or entrepreneur will move at the first possible opportunity. The situation needs to be gauged first. They will stop and ponder to look at the bigger picture first. Sometimes letting the small bait go can get you better bait later something that may help you in achieving larger goals.

See how remarkably similar these two battlefields are? So, just in case you have ventured into business and not learned how to play chess, make sure you do learn the skill.

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