There are plenty of business clichés that people like to throw around, sometimes some are more valuable than others, but here’s one phase that isn’t overused: “Treat business like football.” In fact, I haven’t really heard it used at all. As a football fan and entrepreneur, I find myself wondering: Why not?
The beginning of the football season kicked off this past weekend and people are already using the words “Super Bowl”! All I can say is wow! We’re already so caught up in the end game that we fail to see that this season hasn’t officially started yet! The same can happen in your business. You get so caught up in finishing that project or completing the strategic plans that you fail to see the great work you are doing in the meantime. You neglect to reflect on what you and your business are doing or maybe smaller milestones you might have achieved in the hunt for the “trophy”.
Granted, at first glance it may not be obvious how many similarities there are between the two fields. One involves an actual field where people tackle each other, and the other involves boardrooms and offices where tackling is generally frowned upon. But if you dig a little deeper, you may find that football (or any team sports in general) and business overlap more than you think. Let’s take a step back and look at how the game of football is so similar to entrepreneurship and ways to keep your head in the game!
Establish your mission early on: For a football team, this could be winning your division or a national championship. For a business, this could be entering a certain market or reaching a designated benchmark for revenue. Either way, in both activities, it’s crucial to have that goal in mind from the start.
Create a customized plan: This is an essential ingredient that will help you reach your goals. Neither athletes nor executives reach their goals by accident. Develop a game plan or corporate strategy that takes into account each step you need to take to successfully get to your chosen end point.
Rely on your teammates: In any team-based environment, the individuals are the make-or-break components. It’s up to the coaches and captains on a football team to identify the best players for any given situation, and it’s up to the management team at a company to staff their departments with the best possible combination and hierarchies of employees.
Carefully decide on the leaders: There are many different leaders on a football field, across the offensive, defensive and special teams units. The same is true for a business because there are different employees driving specific departments forward. The people at the top of these assorted ladders will be the ones who turn the rest of the individuals into a cohesive team, so make sure those select few are up to the task.
Pay attention the outcomes: Does your team have a winning record? Do you have unified employees and happy customers? These are the outcomes that validate each step you’re taking. Do you have a losing record? Is your team miserable and are your customers ending their contracts? Adjust your processes and rethink your strategies – then try again.
There are often more than 70 snaps in a football game, each one with its own set of decisions that need to be made. The same is true for a business — every meeting, every interview, and every sale comes with choices. Sometimes you’ll make the right one, and sometime you won’t, but go back to these five pillars to make your adjustments and your business will quickly find the right path.