Game of Thrones may not strike you as a TV show to learn much about business from. The various economies featured in the series are fairly dated and the industries mostly irrelevant to your general business of today (although I’m sure there’s always some useful advice to glean from a blacksmith).

Instead, it’s the actions of the characters and the storylines surrounding them that can give us some pretty good tips on running a small business. Behold, peasants!

The Importance Of Contacts

Living alone in a place like Westeros often proffers some challenges. Simply walking a forest path by yourself puts you at an immediate disadvantage when accosted by a pair of vagrants. In the grand scheme of things as well, it can often be all about who you know.

Whether you are Lady Stark in a pub bringing northern men to your call, or Littlefinger watching and influencing the known world with his spies, reliable contacts can be the key to not only simple survival, but success as well.

A company always needs contacts and you should always be trying to get them. Even the obscure ones. It’s impossible to predict just who might come in handy one day.

Say one of your marketing people comes up with a idea that is sure to work, but necessitates a tank full of exotic fish? Lucky you spent 45 minutes chatting to a tropical fish dealer in the pub 3 months ago and got their card. There you go, you’ll have no problem getting all the Siamese tigerfish you want.

Using Your Rival’s Misfortune

This is a staple in the Game of Thrones, in fact, it’s pretty much a given. If something goes the slight bit wrong for someone, the first thing anyone does is work out a way to exploit that. For example, when King Robert Baratheon dies it is not long before rumours spread that the new King Joffrey is not the true successor. This is bad news for the Lannisters who are soon beset by other claims to the throne. When one group are troubled, the others quickly pounce.

While war usually ensues in the above situation, it probably won’t come to that for your business (or maybe it will?). Nor does it have to be so ruthless either. It’s a simple matter of taking advantage of situations when you can. For example, if a rival coffee shop closes down, there are a bunch of customers now looking for a new place to go. That’s your time to get out there and promote yourself. Costa have also excelled themselves in the past when it comes to making the most of a competitor’s bad press.

People Are Ruthless

It’s a tough and violent world in Game of Thrones. Everyone is after something and they’re willing to go very far to get it. Morals can go flying out the window when a prize is just within reach. The bastard sons of a dead king are killed without a second thought, while even young girls like Arya Stark are not adverse to use of a ruthless killer to enact her revenge (Valar Morghulis).

The point is that if you’d prefer to take a more ethical approach to business, that doesn’t mean others will.

Running a company obviously puts you in a very tough arena and it’s highly likely that other businesses will come after you and their other competitors rather than concentrate on themselves. You need to be paying attention to what your rivals are doing and make sure you can defend yourself from them. As good as it would be that everyone was all sweet and niceness, that’s never going to be the case so prepare to get tough.