Strategies of an Internet Samurai

You've probably heard of Musashi Miyamoto, the famed Samurai warrior who lived from 1584 to 1645. At the age of 13, he fought his first duel to the death, killing a veteran of more than twice his age.

Just before he died, Musashi recorded his philosophy, strategies and tactics in a series of five letters known as the "Book of Five Rings". The fundamental tactics offered in this book have been applied to everything from business, war and sports to the fields of art, love and politics.

Reading them again has offered valuable insights and winning strategies for working within a web-connected world. In particular, it allows you to view Internet Business in the context of the "ways of winning" that Musashi has developed and sought to pass onto his disciples.

The five rings represent the principles of becoming a master competitor and are listed as:

  1. Foundation

    Musashi talks about Foundation in the context of understanding competition and being competitive. Simply copying the techniques used by others is not enough to produce strong and lasting success.

    Being a competitive Internet Business requires two key traits. First, the Business model itself needs to be sound and secondly, you need a balance of technical competence and individual confidence - something that with practice and repetition you become more and more comfortable with.

    From a practical perspective, the Business Model and your own confidence are qualities that make up your drive and create momentum. Technical competence (developing websites, email marketing, online payments) is something that you can outsource now at very reasonable prices.

  2. Form

    Be prepared to act when opportunity arises and gather information from every possible source.

    Musashi refers "Ordered Flexibility" as illustrative of the Form required to successfully compete in any situation and compares it to the qualities of water.

    Water can take on the shape of a container which holds it. It can be calm an pleasant or strong an powerful. The flow of water is guided by its environment where it can be seen to readily adapt to any obstacle put in its way.

    A truly competitive Internet Business adopts the same principle of Ordered Flexibility in its Form by allowing the information that represents its marketable assets to be presented in a variety of formats and across different distribution channels; whether through a web site, mobile phone, as text, podcast or event video. The ultimate Internet Business has the flexibility to do all of this quickly and as needed.

  3. Fire

    In Musashi's world, Fire refers to the intense competitive tactics used in face-to-face fights. In the business world, it easily translates to the tactics used in conflict resolution or negotiation.

    The spirit of competition is the same whether you're competing against an individual or another business. You must carefully understand the overall situation, while at the same time, paying attention to the smallest of details. Because often the differentiation exists in the detail.

    During competitive situations, your mind will be as you have trained it.

    In the world of the Internet Business, you need to identify your target market and use the most appropriate means and effort to get your message to it. And, in doing so, you need to preserve your Ordered Flexibility by ensuring that when something needs to be tweaked or change completely, that you have the necessary Fire to identify the need and the necessary support to be able to adjust rapidly.

  4. Fabric

    The Fabric our clothes are made of support and facilitate our lives. Adopting particular Fabrics determine how we look and to a large extent, what we're able to do (depending on comfort, quality etc.). Musashi would say that understanding the characteristics of Fabrics would allow you to make good decisions about what you can and cannot do. The most important characteristics of effective Fabrics are simplicity, adaptability and durability.

    Effective Internet Business strategy is supported by an equally effective Fabric of technology, know-how and experience to ensure that when the need arises, the most appropriate business decisions can be enacted, quickly and effectively.

  5. Focus

    The ability to maintain focus is your greatest asset in any competitive situation. You will feel the rhythm of your market. You will understand how to effortlessly adjust the qualities of you business to maximise the return on investment dollars.

    Effective tactics are based on the principle of concentrating strength against weakness or resource into opportunity.

    Having clear goals and taking measurements in relation to those goals is as important as your initial business idea.

    You've probably heard the saying that you can't manage what you don't measure and Internet Business is no exception. Inexpensive web analytics tools offered by companies like Google should be considered an essential component of your arsenal of tools to help you maintain a strong Focus on your goals.

So powerful is Musashi's Book of Five Rings that it's principles are being applied to just about anything that requires peak performance. Internet Marketing is no exception.

Examine any successful Internet Business and you will notice they have three things in common that, when supported by the Five Principles outlined here, will virtually guarantee success.

  • They never stop trying to learn how to improve.
  • They recognise reality and emphasise their strengths - not their weakness.
  • They don't try to be everything to all people. Instead, they remain focused on their core offerings and aligh their strengths in the areas where it will do the most good.

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