Checkmate your goal: on chess and entrepreneurship

Strategy and winning. These are two words that best describe the game of chess and entrepreneurship. However, in business, winning is not necessarily associated with competitors. Rather, it is winning your goals by challenging yourself.


The business space and the chess board may be two worlds apart, but there are concepts behind the sport that you can use to navigate on your entrepreneurial journey. Like a chess player, you have to sit down and carefully look at all the pieces before you decide on the play you plan to employ to get to your target.

Define your goal

Bear in mind that it’s both offence and defence. Aim at capturing the other player’s king while protecting yours. If you know what that king you need to capture represents, it will be easier for you to plot out your moves. It could be your target market, a position in the industry, or the objectives you set for yourself. Focus on that goal, don’t be distracted and work your way towards getting the prize that comes with it.

Study your opponents and team members

Chess pieces, yours and that of the opposing player’s, are important elements of this board game. Some have more powerful moves and important positions, so you should know how to use them wisely. Be attentive to your adversary’s style and frame of mind. In business parlance, know your competitors and your market. How do you capture the interest of your prospects? Market research will be a useful tool that can provide you with the answers. Look into the proficiency and talents of your team members, which can be helpful to your planning.

Plan a strategy

A mind game like chess requires strategising so that you can outdo the other contender. Before you place your next piece on the square you are eyeing, review all possibilities and anticipate worst-case scenarios. As they say, you should be two moves ahead of your rival. Victory is within sight when you have proper preparation, planning, practice and execution.

Use perception and change moves, if necessary

Although you have crafted your plans, intuition also plays a significant role in the game. There are circumstances when an entrepreneur’s hunch leads him to success. It’s not always a guarantee, as perceptions may go wrong, but there are times when intuition can save you from danger. Entrepreneurship is all about risks, so always be prepared to pivot when needed. Don’t be afraid to change directions midway if it can lead you to your goal.

Prepare to make sacrifices

Pawns are frontliners that get sacrificed in the play. There are several things you have to forego when you take the business journey. Time, resources and effort are poured into your endeavours to make them a success. When it comes to your people, circumstances call for you to let go of those who may not fit in your corporate culture. If you need to give up something, look at the bigger picture and the long-term effect of it to you and your venture.

Consider the importance of time and the right timing

A professional match may require a time element per move you make. While you need to contemplate carefully your next steps, don’t dwell too much on one strategy as well as don’t rush to get to the next square. Certain actions work best when done at the right timing. Be sensitive to your surroundings, particularly to the market you serve and the industry where you belong. In making decisions, discern well when you have to take a long pause before you take action or when you have to immediately act upon it.

Over time, your experiences will help you navigate through more difficult passages with confidence. Just keep playing and practising. To be a master, you have to learn from more experienced players. Joining clubs can help you hone your skill and capability, such as becoming part of EO where you get to interact with and learn from other entrepreneurs and business owners. In the end, you’ll be able to plot your strategy to arrive at a checkmate to your goal.