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Book club: on art of competition

art of competition

The Art of War for Small Business:Defeat the Competition and Dominate the Market with the Masterful Strategies of Sun Tzu

The book of the month has been recommended by one of our members Jennifer Bailey, the owner of Calla, a shoe brand, helping women who are suffering with bunions but want to look stylish in comfort. Below are Jennifer’s thoughts on the book:


I originally purchased this book because I have a direct competitor with clearly larger budgets than I do for my shoe business and wanted to understand how to fight battles without having the same resources to hand.  I had also read in Phil Knight’s book ‘Shoe Dog’ that he was a keen reader of ‘war books’ and was interested to understand how war strategies and tactics could influence my own business decisions – after all Nike took on much larger brands and won!


The Art of War was originally written centuries ago by a Chinese general and has been used time and time again for more recent military strategies as well as being applicable to business and life decisions too.  “The Art of War for small businesses” takes lessons from the Art Of War and applies them to how a smaller business can ‘fight’ a larger one.


The tactics outlined in the book are nothing particularly new as they follow logical business sense and common management theory, however I did find it useful to think about my business as being at war rather than just operating as a single entity. 


The following were the particular takeaways that were relevant for me and for Calla – but there were lots of other lessons which may be more relevant for your business.

  • Understand competitor strengths and weaknesses and how you can strike the competitor at their weakest points as well as going where they aren’t currently operating and taking advantage of that space.
  • Build and leverage strategic partnerships and alliances with companies and organisations which have a similar audience but where you don’t compete with each other.
  • Choose the right ground for your battles and make sure you aren’t wasting resources on marketing tactics that you can’t compete on due to insufficient funds etc.

It’s worth a read for anyone who has the ambition to take on a larger competitor or even to compete effectively with other smaller ones.


Thank you Jennifer for pointing us to this book. If you have any book recommendations like Jennifer, please get in touch so we can share it with our readers.