Today’s small business environment is tough, highly competitive and more challenging than ever. Small business owners today must think outside of the box, and be creative and cunning in how they operate and grow their businesses.  Just a few years ago, a business owner could grow their operation on sheer hard work alone by out-hustling and out-fighting their competition. This is no longer the case, as shrinking margins, increased costs and a challenging economy require small business leaders to work smarter rather than harder.

Enduring the highs and lows of the economic changes over the past 15 years, I have sought inspiration from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for wisdom on how best to think strategically in the context of operating and scaling my company. Written by a Chinese general named Sun Tzu more than 2,500 years ago, The Art of War is heralded for its consistently insightful advice on warfare strategy. Sun Tzu’s teachings have been applied by small business leaders and large company CEOs alike to outsmart their competition.

There are many teachings in Sun Tzu’s ancient text that can help small business owners have clarity of mission, clarity of strategy and, most importantly, clarity of purpose. Here are a few lessons I gleaned from the book—knowledge I wish I had implemented in my business long ago.

Sun Tzu and the art of small business

AvatarBryan Clayton

Bryan Clayton is a serial entrepreneur founding multiple business guiding his last through acquisition. His focus is team leadership as it relates to tech startups, aligning small teams around a common purpose, vision, and mission. Bryan is the co-founder of GreenPal.