Pirates Generally had a Plan- So, a Pirate Walked into a Bar… (be prepared) – Part 1

… and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”


“What do you mean?” said the pirate, “I feel fine.”


“What about the wooden leg? You didn’t have that before.”


“Well,” said the pirate, “We were in a battle, and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I’m fine now.”The bartender replied, “Well, OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?”The pirate explained, “We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off.  I got fitted with a hook. But I’m fine, really.”


“What about that eye patch?”


“Oh,” said the pirate, “One day we were at sea, and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up, and one of them shat in my eye.”


“You’re kidding,” said the bartender. “You couldn’t lose an eye just from bird shit.”


“It was my first day with the hook.”


Business Lesson: Be Prepared for the Unexpected:


The moral of this story is that even seasoned business warriors have to deal with the unknown now and then. Hanging onto old habits can have serious results for your welfare. No doubt this pirate was affectionately referred to as ‘Lucky’ by many of his crewmates. Though others might have been less charitable and muttered “Belum Dodol!” (Don’t forget he was still functional with a good leg and a good arm and a wicked left hook) But in one sense he was probably fortunate; it could have been a lower clothing readjustment taking his urgent attention instead of a shitty eye problem!


Pirating was (and still is) an actual business. Pirates needed a market niche: ships with booty. Definitely not ships with lots of guns. Pirate ships and tools were specifically designed for the job, so pirates usually had a clear competitive advantage in terms of fighting capabilities They marketed themselves so well that often their ‘customers’ hove to willingly to keep their lives (the ‘what’s in it for me?’ benefit). Business lesson: a smart logo like the skull and cross-bones that clearly communicates your brand promise is worth a thousand words.


In the past, most passengers on these ships were wealthy and were considered high value targets as unmolested kidnap victims for ransom. However, we hear more of a less frequent savage side of these encounters. Put that down to flagrant emotional counter-marketing.


Pirates generally had a plan. They didn’t wander aimlessly over the oceans—they did their market research. Their spies told them which ships of value were scheduled to sail and when. They also realized that ships travelled best on trade wind routes. Their targeting resembled that of a rifle, not a shotgun.


Most pirates also had a distribution channel for their ‘sales’ in order to convert goods and passengers into gold. They had a money-laundering system, except it was a goods and golden objects laundering system. Only short-time operators were stupid enough to bury their loot. The smart ones used some of their wealth to influence local government to their advantage and to enhance their security. Nothing has changed has it? They didn’t use the terms ‘lobbyists’ or ‘patrons’ or ‘research foundations’, but the outcomes were similar.


Pirates generally ignored some standard business goals because of their business model. Most were not interested in maintaining long term client relationships. The lifetime value of a customer could be very short indeed. Does this sound like the approach of some business operators in your tourist town?But some pirates did utilise an additional market niche. One example is under-defended towns along the coasts—a market known to the ancient Norse as being a regenerating source of wealth as opposed to once-off opportunities that were to be either towed away or sunk.


Business Lessons:


– Spread your source of income to minimize your earnings risk


– Seek customers with a longer life time value


We can immediately see a pattern of Harvesting versus Plundering.


There are a lot more business model tips we can learn from our pirate friends. But let’s leave that for next time.


Graeme Stevens
CEO and Co-Founder
neXtep easy


neXtep Business Builder Community Pte Ltd
Singapore ACRA Business Registration Number: 201424522Z
80 Kitchener Road #09-09/10 Singapore 208539