Whenever we visit my wife Vicky’s family in NJ, my nephew-in-law always asks me to play games, and sometimes we play chess.
This brings me back to the days when I used to play chess against my Mom when I was a kid. I remember enjoying it, but not so much when lost. :/
Anyway, the more I play chess, the more interesting the game becomes, and the more I draw parallels between the game and business.
First of all, if you don’t know how to play chess, you have to learn about all of the pieces and what they can and can’t do. There’s a lot to pick up in a short amount of time.
Then you have to have a strategy that translates to tactics. What’s your opening move strategy? How will you protect your King? Do you like to attack with your Queen early and often?
Of course, you have to understand your competition. What’s his or her strategy? Are they aggressive or defensive? How might they react to your moves?
Throughout the whole process, you have to be analytical. Scan the situation, manage your risk, analyze your options, and select the best one.
Similarly, if you’ve never run a business before, you have to learn about many subjects, and quickly. Depending on the company you’re building, you may have to pick up product development, marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, recruiting, legal, and so on.
Then you have to plot your strategy, tactics, and implementation plan. How will you go to market? What channels will you use to acquire customers? How will you recruit for the skills that you need?
Knowing your competition is very important. How do you differentiate from your competition? Is this differentiation sustainable?
And it’s imperative to be analytical in business as well. Even though creativity and other soft skills are important, you have to know your numbers inside and out. How much does it cost to acquire a customer, and how does that compare to their lifetime value? What’s your profit margin and growth? How can you drive more traffic to your website and increase conversion rates?
It’s no wonder that many successful executives were competitive chess players.
I recently bought a chess board so Vicky and I can play. We’ll eventually teach Maya how to play as well. Hopefully she’ll learn how to be analytical and strategic, discover the parallels between chess and business, and then grow up to be a successful executive. No pressure, though. :)