Making it to the Super Bowl takes planning, practice, skill, and a certain amount of luck. The same holds true for running a successful small business. Here are five things that every small business owner can learn from pro football:
1 – The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Football coaches and players spend endless hours studying game film to better understand their opponents and prepare for game day. To be a winner in your business sector, you need to stay on top of what your key competitors are doing, too. You can then create a smart strategy for how you and your team will respond.
Visit competitor websites and do a Google search to find out if they are introducing new products or services, expanding their operations, or launching new marketing initiatives. You don’t have to fight fire with fire: if a competitor lowers their prices, you may want to promote your superior quality or outstanding service instead of automatically lowering yours. Keep in mind that the best defense is often a good offense, and make it a priority to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to economic and industry trends.
2 – Great Teams Have Great Leaders
As a small business owner, you are the embodiment of your company’s values and standards. In order to lead your team to greatness, you and your management team must represent your firm’s culture and exemplify everything it stands for. Make sure that everyone fully understands your short- and long-term goals and engage fully in day-to-day operations. Commit to being open to your employees’ ideas and input, involving them in the company’s decision-making process, and recognizing their hard work and accomplishments. Displaying passion for what you believe in and integrity in how you accomplish it will inspire others to follow your lead.
3 – It’s All About Teamwork
Football coaches understand that everyone must to work together to ensure the entire operation runs smoothly and the team achieves its goals. Small business owners who motivate their employees to function as a team will benefit in countless ways. Begin by breaking free from the mentality that you have to do it all yourself. Making too many decisions without involving others can lead to costly mistakes and signal to your team that you don’t trust their judgment or ability.
Clearly communicate the importance of each employee’s role in reaching shared objectives. Delegate responsibilities and empower your managers and staff to make more day-to-day decisions. Once a task is assigned, allow people to complete it without micromanaging. Effective bosses know this will free up their time to focus on critical tasks, allow them to get more done, and foster a competent and confident workforce that is committed to keeping the business growing.
4 – Practice Makes Perfect
Football players practice daily to improve their skills and remain competitive. The same should be true for you and your employees. Taking the steps necessary to enhance your team’s knowledge and skills doesn’t require a big investment in time, money, or resources. It does mean making a commitment to encourage and support professional development and lead by example.
Purchase business books and create a company lending library or subscribe to industry publications that provide insight into market trends. Fund professional business association memberships and attend educational seminars and networking events where you can share intel with peers. Make sure you budget for training courses and workshops that will help your employees strengthen current skills or develop new expertise to advance their careers.
5 – Experience is the Best Teacher
Post-game analysis is critical for football coaches and small business owners alike. Coaches analyze which plays and strategies did or did not work and consult with assistant coaches and players on how to make improvements before meeting their next opponent. Small business owners intent on upping their game must also make time to analyze and plan for the future.
Whether you do it weekly, monthly, or after each key period of performance, set aside time to consider how your company is doing and where there might be room for improvement. Crunch the numbers to determine how well your business performed and identify ways to increase profits, trim expenses, and improve customer service. Just as head coaches make adjustments and shift tactics to position their team to win, successful entrepreneurs make strategic moves and continually adjust to changing conditions to effectively manage and grow their business.
Professional football may seem like a game, but it’s a business that needs to grow sales, generate profits, and keep customers coming back each season. Like successful coaches, small business owners must have a passion for what they do, motivate their team, and keep their eye on the big picture in pursuit of their business goals.
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