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This article explores the relevance and application of Principles and Strategies discussed in the 3rd Century BC treatise, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in Today’s Corporate World.

Commencing in business, any business, is tantamount to declaring a war on the existing players. As your business grows, tow things happen. You just remain another small player in the market with a steady growth. Or, with luck, the business grows exponentially.

In the latter case, you become so big that the size you attain is one you would have never imagined in your wildest of dreams. Bill Gates, when he started Microsoft, never thought that we would become the richest man in the world for 12 years in a row. Neither did Lakshmi Mittal think he would be listed among the top five in the same list.

Why does this happen? At a certain point, business grows at a rapid and irresistible speed – unimaginable and unthinkable.

Since like adversity, prosperity also brings its own problems - enemies.

Kautilya’s Arthashastra advices us on tackling enemies:

“The enemies should not come to know of his secret; he should, however, find out the weakness of the enemy. He should conceal, as a tortoise does his limbs, any limb of his own that may have become exposed” (1.15.60)

In any given industry, there are maximum of five players at the top. Once you are amongst them, you have to be extremely alert and careful. From this point onwards, all new activities should be carried out secretively with complete detailed planning.

KEEP YOUR USP A SECRET

Your competitive strength is all about a formula your own making. Your USP should be just like that – Your Unique selling point. Something special in your service or product that only you should have. Keep developing on those strengths. Even if the enemy knows about it, they should not be able to reproduce it.

FIND THE ENEMY’S WEAKNESS

Be alert, very alert. You should be aware of the various moves your enemies are planning and/or making. Have a market intelligence team. You need not be the first to attack at all. But if attacked, you should know how to strike back. This would be easier if you are aware of your competitor’s weaknesses.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Learn to protect yourself. Just as a tortoise withdraws his limbs into its shell on being threatened, you too should withdraw if someone comes to know your secrets. If the vital areas of your business are exposed, try to protect them.

But this does not mean you should always fight with your enemies. If required, one should also help his enemies for over-all improvement of the industry. After all, competitors in the same sector form associations all the time.

Remember, the golden statement by Don Vito Corleone in the movie Godfather –

“Never hate your enemies; it will cloud your judgment!”

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai

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