18. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.

寡者備人者也衆者使人備己者也

Sun Tzu

Having a larger army can be beneficial because it forces the enemy to spend time and resources preparing to defend against a potential attack. This, in turn, can weaken the enemy’s overall strength and make it easier for you to defeat them. Sun Tzu also suggests that by compelling the enemy to prepare against you, you can maintain your own numerical strength and avoid being caught off guard by an attack. Essentially, Sun Tzu is saying that having a large army can be advantageous because it allows you to control the situation and keep the enemy on the defensive.

In the marketplace, numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against potential attacks from competitors; numerical strength comes from compelling our rivals to make these preparations against us.

In this statement, the term “numerical weakness” refers to a disadvantage related to numbers or quantities in the marketplace. This could include things like having a smaller workforce, fewer financial resources, or less experience than one’s competitors. The statement suggests that when a company is in a position of numerical weakness, it must spend time and resources preparing to defend against potential attacks from its rivals. This can be costly and divert attention and resources away from other important business activities, such as pursuing new opportunities or innovating.

On the other hand, the statement suggests that having a numerical advantage (i.e., more resources or a larger team) can give a company an edge in the marketplace. By having a larger workforce or more financial resources, a company can be more proactive and aggressive in pursuing opportunities and dealing with potential threats. Furthermore, the statement suggests that a company with a numerical advantage can use this advantage to “compell” its rivals to make preparations against it. In other words, a company with a numerical advantage can put its rivals on the defensive by making them worry about potential attacks or threats. This can weaken the rivals’ overall position and make it easier for the advantaged company to succeed.

Overall, this statement emphasizes the importance of having a numerical advantage in business competition. It suggests that having more resources or a larger team can give a company an edge and allow it to be more successful in the marketplace.