Ryu, World Warrior

To many people, video games are little more than a source of distraction and corruption for teenage boys. I beg to differ. When utilized appropriately, video games can be fantastic learning tools, even if only in a tangential sort of way. If real time strategy games teach resource management and first person shooters improve hand-eye coordination, what can we learn from Street Fighter? And how can it relate to small business, freelancing and entrepreneurship?

Just as there are business lessons to learn from Dragons Den and The Dog Whisperer, we can also learn much from the hadoukens, sonic booms, and spinning pile drivers of Street Fighter.

Competition is a Matter of Perspective

Who is your competition?

That is a question asked by many business coaches and consultants of their clients, so they can better determine how best to position the company in the marketplace. A small boutique clothing store is not necessarily competing against H&M or The Gap.

And the same is true in Street Fighter. Your competition are primarily those around the same skill level as you. Even though I run Hadouken Online, I am far from being a pro at the game and cannot realistically compete against pro players like Justin Wong and Tokido. At the same time, I feel I am more skilled than beginners and novices.

For small business, your competition is similarly tiered. Face off against those on your level (or just above it) and you can work toward elevating your game to the next level.

Every Character Has a Different Strategy

With some characters in Street Fighter, the best strategy is to keep your opponent at a certain distance from yours. This is called zoning. With others, a “rush down” strategy is more effective, coming forward with relentless offense. In the case of a high damage character like Zangief, it may be worth it to absorb some damage to gain a positional advantage. Each character is different.

For small business and entrepreneurship, there is no one size fits all solution either. You may see one company enjoying great success with a particular business strategy, but you may not achieve the same level of success by simply mirroring that strategy. It may not work for you. Each business, each freelancer, each entrepreneur is different.

Adaptability is Valued over Versatility

If you follow the pro players on the Street Fighter circuit who are the best at what they do, it is typically true that they master only one character. They may have one or two “backup” characters, but they will always focus on a “main.”

And as a small business, you can arguably achieve greater success by focusing on a smaller niche and “crushing” it, rather than trying to be all things to all people. It has been said that versatility is overrated, because the quality of each product or component suffers. You spread yourself too thin.

In this way, adapting your product, service or strategy to market conditions may prove more fruitful than chasing trends. Adaptability is valued over versatility. Even when pro players don’t use “top tier” characters, they can adapt their preferred characters to each situation. This isn’t always the case–a “low-tier” character will be at a disadvantage–but it can be the best approach over the long run.

Never Forget Why You’re Doing This

Have fun. In the context of Street Fighter, you’ll have a much better time if you choose a character you enjoy or connect with, rather than choosing a character just because he or she is popular. Even at the pro level, you can tell that players are enjoying themselves. They love what they do, irrespective of any monetary or prestige rewards they may earn.

If you’ve decided to embark on the challenging journey of entrepreneurship, you made that decision for certain reasons. Perhaps you wanted to pursue your passion, you wanted greater freedom or you sought greater ownership of the work you do. Regardless, never forget why you’re doing this. Never lose sight of your motivations and your goals.

Be like Ryu: always look for the next “fight,” constantly working to improve your own skills and abilities.