Very often businesses, especially start-ups focus entirely on the knowledge of their specific industries and practices in order to form strategies for success. Reading blogs from experts in the industry, books from “gurus” and case studies of successful businesses (By the way, I would recommend reading those of the failed ones instead).

However, the truth is that there are many alternative places where one can garner insight into what it is like to survive in the business word. These resources can be thousands of year’s old, rich in experience and shaped by centuries of trial and error. One such resource is Martial Arts, specifically the style of Wing Tsun.

In it, there are four core principles that are so close to what startups should be focusing on, that I could not resist making the analogy.

The principles are:

1.If the path is free – strike.
2.Stick to your opponent.
3.Yield to greater force / Move around, give way.
4.Don’t stop until the end / Follow through.

If the path is free – Strike:

Too often entrepreneurs that have a creative idea keep it in their cupboards in search of “better times”. In fact all they are waiting for is for someone else to bring their idea to life – first. It happened to me a few times, and I do not want to do the same mistake. If you have a creative idea that is just sitting there – do something about it or give it away. Send it to me for instance. (I bet you thought that you should do something about the idea right about now, well, do it.)

Stick to your opponent:

The opponent in this case is the industry and the competitors. You need to live and breathe the industry. You need to be aware of every new development, every new move and every new competitor, business or client. You are also your own worst enemy. While working with one particular start-up, I noticed that the CEO knew less about the company he was running than anyone in the team that is definitely not the way to go. Information is paramount to your success.

Yield to greater force / Move around, give way.

Have you seen a company trying to do the same thing over and over again without success? Hitting a brick wall every single time?
Well, you should not do that. If there is a force in front of your path that is preventing you from moving forward, pivot. Change directions, let it go past you or move around it. Change directions, brands, landing pages, company name if you have to. Just do not keep on beating around the bush.

Don’t stop until the end / Follow through.

One very good friend and a former boss of mine once told me: “If you do something for at least two years, you will find success.” Although the exact period of time may vary but too often, too many of us, give up way too early. Never despair. Keep on trying to do what you believe in and it might just turn your way as it did for Evernote.

If you had to come up with four principles of your own, what would they be? Do you agree with these principles? If you have more examples, please let me know in the comments.

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