Reading List: The Art of War for Small Business

UPDATED: August 2, 2014
PUBLISHED: August 2, 2014

Written in the 6th century B.C., Sun Tzu’s 7,000-word treatise on military strategy was first translated into English in the early 1900s. Although concise, “its contents are immeasurably dense and its applications infinite,” the author states. After writing her first book, Sun Tzu for Women, Sheetz-Runkle realized that The Art of War had profound insights and applications for small businesses. So she set out to interpret Sun Tzu’s lessons for today’s entrepreneurs.

Sun Tzu believed that with the right mindset and strategies, a smaller challenger (perhaps a startup company) could triumph over a bigger, less nimble force (an established corporation).

In The Art of War for Small Business, Sheetz-Runkle presents passages from Sun Tzu and explains how they apply to small businesses today. She also identifies tactics—such as preparing without falling prey to paralysis, leveraging strengths and overcoming limitations, striking competitors’ weakest points, focusing priorities and resources on key challenges, building strategic alliances and choosing your battles—that early-stage entrepreneurs can implement to improve their bottom lines and their businesses. The author showcases companies that consciously or unconsciously applied these principles with astounding success.

by Becky Sheetz-Runkle

AMACOM; $14.95

Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.