I have spent decades analyzing what produces successful businesses and why do so many of them fail. I have studied the patterns of failure as an entrepreneur and a strategic consultant. I have also witnessed and participated at senior management levels and experienced the power of success. What makes the difference?
As an avid sports player and fan, I have played and cheered the champions and stressed out over the failures of those that didn’t make it to the next level. What makes the difference?
The difference as you will learn is that in sports, especially at the professional level they rely heavily on Playbooks/Planning. The process is linear in nature and the motivating factor is to produce a team that can compete at highest levels and win. In business, much too often, the emphasis is on the physical product/technology and not enough is done with planning, team recruitment and execution. Especially at the startup, small and medium enterprises levels should borrow and incorporate the process embraced by the sport world. After all, the steps to victory are undeniable simpler for sports and businesses.
Let’s look at what makes the difference. Sport champions get there because they work towards that goal from the very beginning. They develop a playbook (plan); they select the best players based on their strengths as required in the playbook; each player understands their role as outlined in the play book. Each player understands the needed communications required to become successful. Teams that master the steps required reach the ultimate level. Those that shorten or skip inevitably wind up in the bottom of the rankings.
Let’s look at new businesses trying to become a champion in the space they’re in. Most start with an idea/concept that could change or improve some part how we live our daily lives. The excitement felt by entrepreneurship is addictive especially for the individual who has the idea. So, they start moving their idea forward and self-fund (bootstrapping) the financial requirements needed to advance. Once the self-funding goes beyond the development of prototypes, samples and/or proof of concept; far too many entrepreneurs fall short and become a failure statistic.
Suppose the entrepreneur looks at the idea/concept as if s/he was the owner or head coach of a sport team with the mind set of becoming champions. What are the right steps to take on the competitors and become an enduring winner.
Building a Business Champion
If you ask entrepreneurs what their priority is, raising capital is on the top of their list. There are many steps that need to proceed the fundraising activity. The following are strongly recommended steps to reach success and becoming a winner.
Your Business/Sport– Prove that you have the product/service that is needed. Do your homework; analyze your targeted market and then analyze it again. Remember the quality of your Playbook (Plan) is based on knowing what makes your product/service disruptive in your targeted space and community.
Recruitment Message (Pitch Materials)– create the materials (pitch deck) etc. that clearly demonstrate to your targeted markets (fans) that their daily activities will be made easier because of your product/service. These materials will also be instrumental as a source of recruiting your team. Your message whether verbal or written should always start simple, for example; “Has this happen to you?” Make the audience (fan) and recruited team establish an immediate connection to your message.
The PlayBook/ Plan– successful teams have one thing in common, their Playbook is thorough and flexible enough to adjust to changes and challenges. Sports teams who create superior playbooks win and become dynasties.The Playbook is a well thought out road map to success. The entrepreneur’s Playbook (Plan) needs the right business idea/plan, which incorporates all facets of a business, Product/Service, Markets, Competition, Management Team and Financing.
The Team– every sport recruits team members based on their skills whether potential or achieved. Recruiting talent for a Business should be no different. Because of business structure at times could be more complicated. The Entrepreneur is the captain of the team but unless the captain has experience in scouting and recruiting, the first team member must be someone who brings the experiences as a business leader with knowledge and contacts that would facilitate picking the rest of the team when you’re ready. That person or consultant should be able to help you bring in the team members with proven abilities and a strong team will. If you haven’t heard this before investors rely heavily on the Jockeys (your team) to invest in and not necessarily on your product/service (Horse).
Game Day/Launch and Sustain– So you have analyzed your field of play (Market), you messaged your targeted market (fans), you created your playbook (Business Plan), and you recruited your team and it is now time to win (succeed). The glue to all this for continued success is Team Communication!! Winning teams are noted for their ability to communicate with each other. They know how to react to situations and alert their teammates instantly that they have a sense that something needs to happen to accommodate a change/challenge coming their way. Watch and study winning teams and you will find that their success is based on constant communication on the playing field. In business the team positions are call disciplines and communication as valued and labeled by The Nessa Group as InterDisciplinary Communication (IDC)which without it the chances of failure are higher with every play.
If you show that you’ve taken the steps to build a champion team, investors will be more apt to look at your company as a winning investment. GO PLAY!!!!
James R. Huerta
Co-Founder – Managing Partner The Nessa Group
Commissioner Economic Development for the City of Stamford