Fall is a great time for sports fans. The World Series takes place in baseball, and the regular seasons for the NFL, NBA and NHL begin.
The end of the year is also one of the most important times for small businesses. A lot of entrepreneurs look back on 2013 and wonder what could be improved and what should be changed. Luckily, there are plenty of business lessons to learn from professional sports.
There is no “I” in team
Chances are good that you’ve run the entire show from day one, so as you add employees, it can feel a bit uncomfortable to put some of your former responsibilities into their hands. That’s why people micromanage — they assume that they, and only they, know how to do a task correctly.
You need to get into the habit of trusting your employees and backing away. Give them room to surprise you and rise to the occasion, and start building a team in earnest.
Avoid “Hail Mary’s”
It is awesome to see a crazy play work out beautifully. But, more often than not, we just get stuck watching the wide receiver fumble the ball and lose the game. It can be tempting to try your own Hail Mary pass at the end of the year to boost your numbers and round out 2013 on a high note, but marketing gimmicks are a real gamble.
Instead, drum up business with time-tested, reasonable marketing practices. The end of the year is not the time for a business to experiment with its customer base.
Don’t be a Monday morning quarterback
We all know Monday morning quarterbacks. They are the ones who know the plays that should’ve been made and mistakes that should’ve been avoided. Advice based on hindsight can get pretty annoying, especially in a small business.
You want your team to like working for you because if morale drops, so do sales. Constructive, end-of-the-year criticism is appreciated. If all you do is point out your employee’s mistakes without giving them room or advice to grow, however, they are going to be put off.
Keep your eye on the ball
This idiom always interested me. The point of any game is to score points and win, and a ball is a means to that end. But the idiom isn’t “Keep your eye on the goal,” or “Keep your eye on home plate.” The focus is the ball.
Like in sports, the goal in business is to win by staying in business and supporting your livelihood. But how your business operates, and how it takes advantage of your personal, entrepreneurial style is how your company achieves that end.
Take this time to reflect and remember why you got into business in the first place — a crummy boss, a side passion or a desire to better your community. Whatever the reason, focus on that and use it to guide your growth strategy. If you find your niche, your company will do just fine.
Admittedly, the sports-to-business analogy can be a bit corny, but you have to admit that using some of these fundamental practices can help you improve your business. Focus on them, and 2013 will be a real winner — if you’ll allow me one more sports-related pun before I go.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services.