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5 Pieces of Game of Thrones Business Advice to Live By

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5 Pieces of Game of Thrones Business Advice to Live By

Game of Thrones is a world from which we can learn a lot.

We can learn the dangers of having children with our siblings, why everyone should consider increased security at weddings and just exactly how not to win a trial by combat. But, one thing I guarantee you didn’t think we could learn from Game of Thrones was business advice.  

Surprisingly, though, there are plenty of parallels to be found in Westeros between events in the hit TV show and occurrences in the business world. By taking a deeper look at G.R.R Martin’s fantasy creation, you’ll find we can translate a number of important pieces of business advice.

  1. Always Pay Your Debt

Tyrion has a habit of telling people that the Lannisters will always pay their debts. And you know what? He doesn’t lie. The Lannisters have always paid up on money they promised, which is important to their reputation.

Because they do always pay their debts, the people of Westeros trust in their unofficial house motto. The result is that people do business with the Lannisters because they know they’ll get paid — the motto also saved Tyrion’s life on more than one occasion.

Staying true to your word is vital in business. In our interconnected online world, failing to live up to expectations won’t remain a secret. If you don’t carry out work you say you will, deliver on time or pay your debts, others will quickly know about it.

A business that doesn’t follow the same honest mantra as Tyrion Lannister isn’t going to inspire repeat business or carry a reputation that makes people want to work with it.

Always pay your debts and people will trust you won’t let them down.

2.Don’t Rush Your Business Ventures

Daenerys Targaryen is a great example of many things. A powerful female role model, a fair and just ruler and a poster child of how not to raise dragons. However, for the business minded individual, perhaps the most prudent example Khaleesi made was her patience and restraint when it came to reclaiming the Iron Throne.

Daenerys could have invaded Westeros a long time ago, but she didn’t see herself fit and ready to rule. Instead, she remained in Slaver’s Bay, honing her leadership skills, making mistakes and, most importantly, learning from those mistakes.

She essentially beta tested her own royalty before setting sail for the Seven Kingdoms.

If she had sailed for the Seven Kingdoms, she’d have been woefully underprepared for what she faced and would have likely either failed in taking the throne, or failing in winning the hearts and minds of the people of Westeros.

By taking that time, by testing her ‘service’ thoroughly, she knew how to make it succeed come launch. This piece of Game of Thrones business advice advocates patience and testing of your business product and model.

Don’t just jump in head-first and hope your business will float. Start small, test the waters and make sure the product you are offering is ready for the big, wide world.

3. Inspire Loyalty

“A ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion.” — Tyrion Lannister

Loyalty is an important theme in Game of Thrones. We’ve seen countless examples of how loyalty either built or destroyed something. A lack of loyalty from Petyr Baelish lead to the capture and execution of Ned Stark, Jon Snow’s treacherous subordinates left us with one of the most widely talked about cliffhangers in TV history, and Ramsay Bolton’s supposedly “loyal beasts” turned out to be far less than so.

Yet, true loyalty has resulted in some great successes for characters within the series. Drogon’s loyalty to the Mother of Dragons saved her from certain death, Jaime’s loyalty to his brother meant Tyrion didn’t end up like Ned Stark, and the loyalty of the City Watch ensured none of Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate children could challenge Joffrey’s claim to the Iron Throne. Wait…

What Game of Thrones demonstrates is that loyalty is often the key to surviving in a hostile, unforgiving and unstable world; something Westeros and the world of business have in common. Inspire loyalty with your customers — offering incentives, good customer service, USPs, strong brand identity, extra value, etc. — and you’ll secure the support you need to weather troubling times.  

Treat your customers poorly, though, and you won’t inspire that devotion Tyrion reasonably argued was so important. You have to give customers a reason to be loyal, or they’ll either eat you alive like Bolton’s dogs, or abandon you like Stannis’ army.

4. Remember, Winter is Always Coming

Winter in Game of Thrones is a definable occurrence of endless night, blizzards and the return of the White Walkers. In business terms, though, winter is far less black and white. Instead, it’s more like an impending problem — the potential for things to go very wrong, very quickly.

Winter is always coming for businesses.

At any point, a new competitor could arrive and threaten your business, or you might face supplier issues, or any number of other issues. The point is: never get too comfortable. Always be aware that nobody in business is truly safe.

Don’t believe winter is coming? Just ask the people over at BHS.

5. Plan for Failure

Awareness is one thing, but how does never letting your guard down protect you from the potential coming of winter?

Tywin Lannister knows all about economic hardships, although you wouldn’t have known it to look at him. The Lannister fortune was built on copious amounts of gold retail, but when the gold mines ran dry and winter came for the Lannisters, Tywin managed to clutch onto wealth and continued his family’s legacy as the richest house in Westeros.

But how? If you can no longer sell your primary resource, you’re heading towards bankruptcy. The collapse of Blockbuster is a stark reminder of this, but it isn’t the only example of businesses failing for similar reasons. History is littered with them.

Tywin Lannister kept his wealth alive, because he foresaw the coming of winter and his response was ingenious. Instead of trying to save his sinking ship, he performed a business pivot.

Like many businesses in the real world, when his current business model failed, he devised a new one, allowing him to succeed and carry on paying any debt that came his way. 

How did he do it? The team over at Russell Smith Chartered Accountants have created this Game of Thrones infographic, which will tell you everything you need to know:

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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