Chess is a good metaphor for business competition. The moves you can play in chess and business are very large, as with just 3 opening moves there are 9 million possible positions. For the comparison of business and chess imagine how many possibilities are there in business or start-ups for strategies, ideas, pricing, products, trends, customers, marketing, people, ressources….
The parallels between chess and business are clearly evident.
1. They are both a War
Chess is a battleground on which the enemy has to be defeated at all cost for you to win the game. There’s a limited demand for your product and lots of contenders that are willing to supply, so in order to capture and retain the market share, Founders, CEOs have to play and win or the game is over.
2. Plan several moves ahead
If you’ve seen people play chess, or maybe you play, you’ll notice that the opponents patiently wait their turn, study the board, anticipate their next move, and go through potential scenarios in their head. This is not so different from what is obtainable in the business world.
Both are based on SWOT analysis. That is, recognising your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
3. Never underestimate your opponent
Always assume that your opponent will see through your strategy and will be ready with a counter plan. Chess players spend time studying how their opponents think. This way, they can device countermeasures that will enable them to stay ahead, withstand an attack, and make a counter-attack.
Businessmen and organisations should also make such an effort on whatever they do. Just like in chess, you need to understand your competition if you want to succeed in business.
4. Don’t play the plan, play the board
While it is important to make plans, it’s even more so to know when to abandon them or simply make adjustments.
What determines your success or failure is your ability to adapt well and on time and respond effectively to counter what your competitors are doing or to know where your industry is moving.
5. You’ll have to make sacrifices
In chess, you learn to make necessary sacrifices that will give you the upper hand, or enable you to capture the king. There are situations where you have to offer up a piece with intentions of gaining an advantage later on.
And even in your private life there are so many things you have to sacrifice in order to prove success as an entrepreneur. Things like missing out on vacations, time with friends/family, sacrificing money — limiting your entertainment purchases — sacrificing your time. BUT if you believe in what you’re doing and you’re willing to work for it — those things are just short term “losses” for a better future.That’s what it all comes down to.
6. Find the balance between skills and intuition
To prepare, players spend months years memorising potential strategies and moves. This way, they can remember at the right time the move they have to make so they won’t spend too much time thinking.This is why it is important to prepare in advance. A skilled entrepreneur can make decisions which appear to be (too?) quick, but in reality, are a result of months of study and preparation.
But it’s not possible to plan for everything. There are moments when you have to make a move based on intuition.One of the most accomplished chess player of all time, Garry Kasparov, said:
“ Intuition is the defining quality of a great chess player. It’s often at the very toughest moments of their chess battles—when they had to rely on pure intuition— that great player came up with their best, most innovative moves”
You need to rely on your gut sometimes when you reach a point in business or life.
7. Have faith in the game
Before you can take part, you have to learn the rules. That’s also the way it is in business. You need to understand the dynamics of how things work, if not you are most likely headed for failure.
The best way to learn about your industry, consumer demand, market regulations, pricing techniques… is to be passionate about what you do. The only way to do great work is to love what you do as Steve Jobs said once.
Chess has become part of the everyday language of Business executives: we checkmate our opponents/ we are just pawns in a game/ we think three moves ahead. Chess is a brutal mental game. So is life. Make your moves carefully.