Can samurais really offer tips on how to become a successful business owner, or how to advance in your career? How to triumph on a battlefield, sure, no one is better suited to prepare you for the tides of war than a samurai veteran. However, as far as history is concerned, it was never documented that samurais offered great career advice. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting topic to think about. If samurais offered business advice, would that mean that Ronin offered tips for freelancers? Nevertheless, it’s true that seppuku is too severe of a punishment for failing an assignment and disappointing your superiors.
Well, maybe samurais weren’t as admirable entrepreneurs as they were skilled on the battlefield, yet their code of conduct, bushido (the way of the warrior), can be applied to more than one aspect of life. Among other things, bushido can serve as a good business model, so let’s go over its virtues and see how they transfer to entrepreneurship.
If you work as an officer of the law, or as a Judge Dredd type in the future, the application of this concept will be pretty straightforward (I am the law!). If you are an employer, it basically means you should do things by the book. Respect health and safety regulations for the sake of both workers and consumers, do right by every customer, and avoid under-the-table business dealings. Sure, you might miss out on some alluring opportunities, but if you keep out of legal issues you cut down on the unnecessary risk. Even though this is more of a common decency than success advice, it still lowers the chance of failure, so it can be regarded as a step in the right direction.
After receiving a bad review, or if one of the competitor firms starts spreading rumours, or starts to belittle your company, you know what you need to do. Honour dictates that you should challenge the individual to a duel, or using the correct term kettō. After all, the best way to wash a bad review is with the blood of the defiler himself, it is the ultimate way to make sure no one else questions your competence. Well, not exactly, the best way to defend our nobility, or in this case reputation, is to handle the things like a professional.
When you need to handle a negative review, respond to it in a timely manner and try to take the issue offline. It is essential that you ascertain why someone gave you a bad review, and try to reconcile the entire mess. Additionally, there may not be a reason to panic – if a review was written just for the sake of defamation of character, it won’t be rated as relevant and you can request its removal or even sue the person for defamation. If a bad review makes a valid point, take it seriously, share it with your co-workers, and work on your performance. Never resort to sweeping it under the rug, it can only backfire, and it may discourage other customers to leave their reviews, which does not work in your favour.
It is essential that you bow down when greeting your employer, every day. Whenever you deliver bad news, it would also be a nice gesture to kneel down, start sweating with anxiety, and yell out “I am sorry your majesty” when submitting your report. Considering how your boss will be in a “kill the messenger” mood, brace yourself for a harsh punishment and take it like a real samurai.
Alright, there is no need for such extreme formalities, but it’s good to remember that respect is a two-way street, regardless of whether you are an employee or employer. Everyone will feel a lot more appreciated if that person is treated with the appropriate level of respect. It is important for a company to have a hierarchy, but it is also crucial that you promote team spirit, which means moving past the traditional boss-worker approach.
A great deal of business owners use altrocentrism as a leadership model. The basic concept behind this leadership model is to allow workers to build their own reputation, and develop as renowned professionals.
Courage is usually defined as a willingness to face uncertainty, for the wellbeing of you and those around you. This is not the same as taking risks and acting recklessly. Courage is quite essential for any career, you can do everything you can to minimize the risks, mitigate the possible damage, and have viable contingency plans, but the element of uncertainty will always be present. During our career, we face numerous struggles and failures; however, we should never be discouraged to make steps towards advancement. We can see what we can salvage from our failures and try again with better insight. Also, if your office is by any chance under siege, and you act valiantly by saying to your boss and co-workers – “Go! I’ll hold them off!” you can bet you are getting a promotion the next day- provided you survive.
However, it is also worth mentioning how courageous acts can get you fired. Two years ago, a man name Paul Marshal heroically saved two children by wrestling with a shark, and this act was documented. Since, Paul was on sick leave from work, going viral revealed that he was on vacation, which got him fired. I guess the moral of the story is, be careful when channeling your courage.
This one is a bit tricky to decipher- if you take the concept of charity or benevolence, and apply it to your business model, you will go bankrupt. You will become a saint, but a poor saint nonetheless. This is clearly not how you should practice benevolence as a business owner. The proper way to put this concept into practice is to give the jobs to those who are really going to appreciate it. If you need to choose between an overqualified and financially stable individual, and one who is eager to learn and desperately needs a job, choose the second one. Sure the first candidate will do a better job, but the other one is willing to learn and will appreciate you much more for giving him, or her a chance. For a small business owner it is crucial that you find a team of people willing to stand by your side, for an overqualified worker you are simply a stepping stone until something better comes his or her way.
Loyalty is so much more than being loyal to your superiors. As business owner, you have a duty to stay loyal to your consumers, so that they will reciprocate and be loyal to you. Having a strong base of regulars is a key component of stable monthly revenue. This translates into communicating and interacting with your customers online, thereby inciting their further engagement. Give regulars an occasional discount or VIP treatment, and take their feedback into consideration when making improvements or adjustments to your products. Basically, you need to show your consumers that they are important to you, and become important to them in the process. This is how you generate brand loyalty, and why one is able to advance from a small business to a big company.
It is true that speaking your mind was regarded as a virtue once, but now you can end up being labeled as disrespectful. If you give someone a few home truths, you can get you into a lot of trouble, so we must distinguish between sincerity and criticism. In order to adequately transfer this part of the bushido code to business, read it as “Don’t try to scam people”. Be honest about your product, don’t sell something you yourself wouldn’t buy. Honest reviews are a good way to promote your services, but trying to double cross your consumers is a one-time deal. If you truly want to have the edge over your rivals, never resort to lying – offer a longer warranty, use customer based incentives, just don’t use deception.
Lack of self-control is generally bad for anyone, however, many business owners rely on this self-control scarcity to make profit. The whole Skinner box effect is about habituating the process of purchasing or using one’s products or services (mainly Facebook games). As a business owner, implementing self-control, means staying away from risky or tempting investments. These are gambles, and being willing to take them is not a sign of courage. Also, remember the whole Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski affair? All of it could be avoided by practicing self-control, so in a way this one is a no brainer.
Well that’s about it, success tips from samurais, or at least what they would say if they were still around, and they would probably advise you not to unsheathe your sword in front of your superiors.
Do you think samurai have useful tips to run a successful business? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.