10 Things All Entrepreneurs Should Learn From Machiavelli

Out of all the most read books in literature is Renaissance writer and political scientist Niccolo Machiavelli’s, ‘The Prince’. Though written over 500 years ago, this polarizing book has ironically been a staple for leaders in all spheres of society. While Machiavelli’s, ‘The Prince’ is a handbook for rulers and politicians, his philosophy and theories can also apply in enterprise and life in general. Are you looking to be a successful entrepreneur? Do you want to have your brand stand out and maintain longevity in the industry? If you haven’t come across the book ‘The Prince’, then take a few lessons on how to become a better entrepreneur through Machiavelli.

10 Things All Entrepreneurs Should Learn From Machiavelli
10 Things All Entrepreneurs Should Learn From Machiavelli

1. Crush the competition, completely.

“A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war.”

As an entrepreneurial you must realize that business is ‘war’. There is room for everyone in the business world however your objective is to thwart your competition. Be shrewd and strategic on how to marginalize your competition so that only your business has the upper hand. According to Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, ‘By whatever means necessary, crush the competition.’

2. Make friends with powerful people

“As princes cannot help being hated by someone… they ought to endeavor with the utmost diligence to avoid the hatred of the most powerful.”

Your best card in your deck is to have powerful and influential people in your circle. You might be a new or small start up but when you have people who can endorse your business and influence buyers then you are way ahead. You need strategic relationships from the lowest end to the highest rank that can benefit your business.

3. Work With People Better Than You

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

Always acknowledge that you don’t know everything but you can surround yourself with great minds. A smart business leader surrounds themselves with the smartest and brightest brains. Hire the best for your team and have a business partner who compliments you.

4. Don’t isolate yourself

In the wilderness, most animals move in groups and the same should apply to you. In business you need to socialize. A good business person makes acquaintances from whom they can learn from. It also works to your advantage that you might find allies when need assistance.

5. Delegate and do it well

“He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.”

Machiavelli believed that leaders must learn how to command their subordinates into obeying their orders, otherwise they risk being ignored by them.  Most startup entrepreneurs have trouble delegating and assigning work which is one of their biggest barriers to growth. The entrepreneur must be able to delegate duties within their organizations. There should be a firm hand that includes consequences for not meeting deadlines or doing the assignments well.

6. Be prepared to take tough decisions

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”

Fans of the HBO television series ‘Game of Thrones’ have followed the different types of leadership from the different characters. At times the most honourable of the leaders has faced a difficult situation where hard decisions had to be made to maintain order and loyalty. Entrepreneurs must be able to ensure that every member of the team is well aware of their duties and add value to the organization. There is need for balance between respect and fear whereby team members understand their position within the organization but are able to approach management.


7. Do Good, Sometimes.

“Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to … appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.”

It’s simple, ‘social responsibility’. From Bill Gates to Oprah, business people understand that there is need to win pubic affection through benevolence. When you succeed in business, always give back. Learn to build emotional capital for yourself and your brand.

8. Follow successful people

“A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent.”

Machiavelli insists that in order to become a great leader, every leader must follow the examples set by those before them. There are enough and many examples to learn from about entrepreneurship, leadership and other keys to the success for entrepreneurs. Take notes and advice from successful leaders of industry.

9. Believe in yourself

“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. ”

According to Machiavelli if you believe in yourself, there’s no reason for you to be afraid of any obstacles in your path to success in anything that you do. As an entrepreneur you are the bearer of the vision hence you need to entirely believe in your business before you can try to convince others.

10. Keep your ear on the ground

“To understand the nature of the people one must be a prince, and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people.”

‘Customer is king’ and your employees oil the machine that you want to work hence never ignore your surroundings. Always keep yourself abreast with problems in the market and be open to feedback. See problems and solutions from different perceptions. Understand your user’s situation, and why people act the way they do.



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