10 Business Lessons From Sherlock Holmes

1. Master your craft

Sherlock Holmes is a master of deduction. Aside from his natural talents, he is constantly developing his skills. Before you start a business, your skills need to be excellent. We call this founder-market fit. Whether you are selling a product or service, you should know how it works inside and out, and continue to develop your skills.

2. Be obsessed with what you do

One marked characteristic of Sherlock Holmes is that he is absolutely obsessed with puzzles. He loves it so much that the police don’t even pay him for his consulting services; the thrill of solving crimes is reward enough. You hear successful business people say this all the time: you must love what you do. Most entrepreneurs would be willing to work for free, money is never the goal, it’s the by-product.

3. Remain focused on your goals

Sherlock Holmes thought useless information in his brain was like having boxes of junk in the attic, it only makes the stuff you need harder to find. Cluttering your mind with periphery distractions can derail your focus. Too often entrepreneurs chases new ideas and never fully commit to one.

4. Be observant

What makes Sherlock Holmes so great is that he notices things that others miss. Often, the solution is right in front of our eyes. Train yourself to pick up on the irregularities and patterns whether it’s someone’s body language, a hidden agenda, consumer behaviour, trend signals, etc. Always be ahead of the curve if you want to stay relevant.

5. Be disruptive

Sherlock Holmes does what others cannot, and makes it look easy. He follows his own rules. Create a product or service that is so superior that others follow you. Be a trend setter, and don’t follow what everyone else is doing. Some of the greatest businesses took chances that larger companies wouldn’t take, or were too slow to take.

6. Stay curious

Sherlock Holmes once said, “It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” To be valuable in business, you have to know what others don’t know. This starts with having a healthy curiosity and being a lover of learning.

7. Be secretive

Sherlock Holmes doesn’t always disclose his motives and neither should you. Often we can learn a great deal of information when we don’t reveal our cards, or we speak last in meetings. Even if you don’t know something, don’t always let others know, this mystery is alluring and will attract people toward you.

8. Partner up

Even the great Sherlock Holmes needed his faithful companion, Dr. Watson. If your skills are specialized in one area, then they may be lacking in another. Recognize your deficiencies and partner up with someone whose skills complement your own.

9. Remain objective

Sherlock Holmes is impassive while on a case, he only looks at what the evidence suggests. Whether it’s a negotiation or a tough decision, emotions can be your enemy in business. Keep them out of the boardroom, be objective in your dealings, and don’t let emotions cloud your judgement.

10. Use your imagination

Sherlock Holmes thinks outside the box, that’s how he can piece together seemingly ordinary and unrelated elements of a case into a cohesive story. One of the key elements in business is to constantly innovate and separate your business from the pack. This requires a constant stream of good ideas. Creativity is a soft skill that can be developed. Train your mind to think outside the box and be prepared to capture new ideas when moments of genius strike.

One of the worst sayings in business is, “because this is the way we’ve always done it.” Challenge the status quo, think differently, and use your imagination.