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Traditional Japanese Philosophies For Marketing And Entrepreneurship Strategies

It is a Japanese traditional idea of ‘how small fish control the big fish’

Photo by Josh Kobayashi from Pexels

Reading on the article about life, career and living in the magazine has reminded me back the time I was attending a seminar in Gold Coast, Australia almost 20 years ago. It was a time that I’ll never forget, meeting with young enterprising marketers, entrepreneurs and start-ups while enjoying the beach, watching the waves on the magnificent Coral Sea.

Besides knowing new friends and acquaintances, I’ve also met a Japanese entrepreneur who is developing a device that dispenses natural fragrances into buildings to enhance the air quality. Frankly, it was my first time having an in-depth conversation with the highly ambitious Japanese entrepreneur.

It’s not about product and invention but the topic that we shared and enjoying the moments of exchanging knowledge on cultural background, political understanding, career vision as well as ideas. I’ve learned from him the essence of traditional Japanese business philosophies which in fact, one of the ingredients for most of the Japanese success across the globe today.

He shared his business challenges and explained how most Japanese entrepreneurs and professionals succeeded in dealing with ways in which small businesses might effectively compete with bigger and more powerful corporations in the marketplace while still maintaining its traditional entity. It is a Japanese traditional idea of ‘how small fish control the big fish‘. It is easy to clarify theoretically but not on a practical implementation even this idea has proven its effectiveness throughout the world.

Traditional Japanese Business Philosophies

According to traditional Japanese business philosophies which applies in today’s entrepreneurship strategy, the most essential factor in determining victory is to know yourself, your competitors, prospects and marketplace. In other word is that you must audit your capability and do a research on your competitors as well as the market prospects.

The size of the company is not a deciding factor for victory, nor will the well-equipped corporation ensure victory. From the audit and research, it is important to plan, identify and creating opportunity from the vulnerability of your competitor’s strategies while protecting yourself from exposing your weakness.

Some of the popular traditional Japanese business philosophies were;

One Arrow, Two Birds. We have only one chance to shoot into a group of birds clustering in a treetop at a time. If we miss, we will frighten all the birds away. Before we shoot, we need to calculate our angle and aim carefully, so that one shot will yield two birds.

The Fox Borrows the Tiger Present. In a similar vein, birds ride on the back of buffalos. Birds provide relief for the buffalos by eating the ticks from their back, while buffalos provide shelter and protection for the birds. The fox and tiger are merely metaphors and in reality, can represent many things with some possibilities as follows

  • The tiger is a powerful and influential individual who shares our vision and willing to lend his hand for purpose of mutual benefit. It also can be an organization or association that shares your vision and point of view.
  • The tiger could also be our job title and talent through the ability to master our field of expertise, the work and the portfolios itself can become our tiger.

Art of Deception. This is the most popular traditional Japanese concept of business. The marketplace is a battlefield. The essence of war is deception. When we are ready to attack, we must create the impression that we will not attack. Keep plans as dark and impenetrable as night. The highest form is to conquer by strategy. Japanese has first adopted these concepts in its economic warfare with the U.S. Japan and currently the Chinese market, appeared to be ‘no threat’ and pretended to be a docile pig. Now, it is feasting on the ‘tiger’ (the US world market domination).

Differentiation of Marketing and Selling. Entrepreneurs need to focus more on marketing than selling. Selling is the process of persuading customer to purchase the products and services, while marketing is more on to ensure that the customer will comfortable to find only us in order to purchase the product and services. Marketing involves the overall of the company’s strategy and tactics to ensure the goodwill, branding and overall success in the marketplace.

Collecting the Small Force. Expand your forces from singular to multiple. One piranha alone might not have any impact; however, hundreds of piranhas will surely overcome the shark. Let us concentrate on our small success. Success in life often comes from accumulating a stronghold of small victories. The Japs believe, failure often caused by overlooking insignificant events.

Remove The Firewood from under the Cooking Pot. When you are facing a pot of boiling water, the force of boiling water is fierce and unmanageable. Instead, you should step back and discover the real source of water force; the firewood. Once the source is discovered, you can easily remove the firewood from under the cooking pot, and the water will lose all its might. Employ this technique when the situation becomes unmanageable and it is necessary to remove the firewood.

I’m just passionate to share something that might be useful for all and every each of us. Many times, people would come out of nowhere to share with me some dynamic ideas, then end up vanishing from my life. In fact, we are actually responsible for evaluating every idea of creating our own strategies for a better tomorrow.

For whatever reasons it was, is and will be, it is my fervent hope that this article and even every post that I write in Marketing In Asia will always be part of inspirational contribution for career empowerment to all readers.

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Khir Khalid
Written By

Khir Khalid is a certified marketing professional registered with the Institute of Marketing Malaysia. Besides being a columnist at Utusan Malaysia, he is also an associate marketing consultant and a digital content writer for commercial sectors and agencies. Follow him on LinkedIn and website.

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