You might have seen various commercials using chess to express the connection between their products/services and the major achievements in life. However, these ads just focus on the prestige of the game and not one’s proficiency, which actually contributes towards success in almost all major aspects of life and in business specifically.
Chess is the game of strategy that combines attack and stratagem and the connection between business and chess can be seen in many ways. Here are five most prominent areas of business that exhibit strong connection with the game.
1- The Business warfare; consider your competitors and you will realize that the battle ground is very much similar. As a novice learner, struggling with the basics of the game one has more chances of getting defeated by the more experienced, practiced player. Similarly, if you’re entering a new market with new product/service, you must know that your competitors are also out to win and some of them are more experienced than you, other have better access to resources and some might be more ambitious than you.
2- Know the aim of the game and you’ll discover the business insights; the goal of chess is to protect the king and at the same time trying to destroy the other player’s king. In the business world, your company may have an aim to sell more products than the competitors or to have more subscribers etc. You have to make sure that you build a reputable brand (protect your king) and as you’re going to make more sales than competitors, certainly, they are going to lose a market segment (their king is destroyed).
3- Planning requires efficiency; the chess player with the main aim in mind (protecting the king) begins plan moves and potential responses to that move. Experts even remember the opening moves and then set up a series of events that they can deal with easily. Similarly, an entrepreneur needs planning, not only for starting up a business but to grow it to the next level. As an entrepreneur, you may not always remember your opening moves, but there are hundreds of business tools that can do the job for you.
4- Managing the time and resources wisely; strategy games are more like a war where you have been given resources, both material (army) and immaterial (time) and you should expect losing some pieces. A strategic sacrifice at right time can help making the loss minimum, a well-played countermove can suddenly change the face of the game, and a well-planned sacrifice can give you an edge and small sacrifices can bring a huge difference between winning and losing.
Similarly, businesses at times find themselves in a position of sacrifice; may be to gain a better market share, to lower the burden of losses etc or to rebrand themselves into a more powerful and in-demand brand. Moreover, the time management is the key to success in business, i.e. when to make a market entry or withdrawal, timing of international expansion, supply chain timing and even when to run a particular social media campaign.
5- Using all the available pieces; the temptation of moving the king and queen around the board is very common among rookies. As you start learning the chess strategy, you realize that it’s not the way to go and by using all the pieces available, you can effectively protect the king, while eliminating opponent’s pieces. Looking for ways that can engage the entire board in competition expands the playing field, provides extra chances for surpassing the opponent and spreads out the opponent’s resources.
Likewise, if you’re running a business, you might see some attractive areas/resources to focus on, i.e. using social media for marketing, relying on the start employee alone etc. This may work for some time, but to run a company smoothly, you must have to work on improving skills and abilities of all of the employees and by using all possible marketing mediums that can bring business. That’s how a business can grow to the next level, i.e. only when you use all the resources at optimum.
So many similarities, but here comes the difference;
Maybe you’ve seen chess games on TV where players patiently wait for their turn and ardently study the board. Everything looks so dignified and respectful, but in the real business world, you cannot expect your competitors to behave like a chess player does. They can attack anytime from anywhere, and they will be more than happy to see your ruined reputation!
Now, if you take some time to learn and play chess and take the chess principles into action on a regular basis, you’re surely ready for the real world business competition with an edge and that edge is the “strategic thinking” that develops over time. Believe me, every time you play a game of chess, you are dealing a brand new situation and the better you tackle situation on board, the better you can devise a business strategy.
I personally felt the urge of learning chess for the very same reason and it seems very interesting, motivating and result producing. I have lately been following John Bartholomew’s Youtube Channel which is very helpful for beginners to learn chess. John is international chess master and is one of the co-founders of Chessable (an e-learning platform for beginners and professionals to learn and improve the game).
I’ve also joined the platform and there’re a lot of books available; I recently got IM John Bartholomew’s Scandinavian in my learning material’s list (authored by John Bartholomew) and sounds a good read so far.
The Bottom Line:
Strategic thinking, analyzing available options, accurately evaluating the consequences of each move, and a foresight about potential moves in the future are the basic practices of chess and these are all essential for being a successful entrepreneur. However, learning to play chess is not what makes difference, learning to play better chess is what makes a difference.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you must take the time to learn and play chess, and if you are the one who already knows how to play it, you must take some time to learn how to play better!