“Fight or flight?” Nothing is more elemental to an organism’s survival than knowing when to run and when to defend itself. In which instances should a creature pick a battle and make a stand, and when should it retreat to fight another day?
Entrepreneurs often face a similar quandary, with the added wrinkle that sometimes it makes more sense to “flirt” rather than run or fight. In fact, startups, given their limited ability to effectively fight or flee, often must play nice when threatened. As such, rather than deciding between “fight or flight,” the more appropriate question for an entrepreneur is, “When should I fight, flee or flirt?”
As with most business dilemmas, there is no dogmatic response that can be uniformly applied to every situation. Each threatening instance must be evaluated in light of your resources, the criticality of the threat and the probability that you could: survive a fight, escape by flight, or establish an ally by flirting.
Fortunately, there are two excellent books that address the yin and the yang of this fundamental issue: Sun Zi’s The Art of War and G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa’s The Art of Woo.