Business & Finance Entrepreneurship-startup

Five Reasons Why Starting a New Business is Like Starting a New Football Season

I've done both, coached football and started new businesses. The manner in which a coach approaches the upcoming season can be compared with the way an entrepreneur should approach starting his or her business.

#1 Team Strategy = Business Concept

Football teams have an identity that flows from their basic strategy, their approach to the game. For my beloved Chicago Bears, everyone knows it's all about defense €" tough, in-your-face, smash mouth defense. When it comes to offense, I think I'll refer back to how one of our past head coaches described his offensive plans. It was something like €We hand off the ball 3 times, run it up the middle and get 3 yards per carry.' When one of the stunned reporters tried to remind the coach that 3 plays at 3 yards each is only 9 yards forcing the team to punt, the coach simply brushed off the comment. In Chicago, the team knows, the coaches know, the fans know and the whole league knows, we play defense. Our approach to the game is legendary and it fits with the image of the team and the City for that matter.
It's no different for your new business. The €team€ needs to know and understand the basic business concept or strategy. In my new book, €Business Landmines: Avoid Heartburn, Insomnia and Lawsuits€ (to be released this fall), I stress this basic fact: Your customer must be able to understand your business concept from a 2-3 sentence description. The business concept must be easy to understand (at least for your customer) and communicated to all involved €" customers and employees alike.

#2 Playbook = Business Plan

Once the team has its basic strategy, the coaches can develop their plays. The plays are committed to writing and compiled in the team's Playbook. The plays emanate from the strategy.
For an entrepreneur, their playbook is their Business Plan. Like the playbook, it should be in writing and should fall out of the business concept. The Business Plan contains all of the detail €plays€ the entrepreneur plans to run including the sales and marketing plans, budgets, staffing plans, analysis of competition, capital structure, etc.

#3 Player Selection = Staffing

One the strategy and playbook have been put in place, the coaches can then evaluate their talent and select the players that can best execute the plays. The players then go through practice after practice to put them in the best position to succeed running the plays.
For a new business, the required management and staff to operate the business should be identified in the Business Plan. The entrepreneur then needs to recruit, interview, hire and train these people. They need to be supervised closely to ensure that they are running the plays consistent with the entrepreneur's plans.

#4 Game Plan = Plan of Action

The game plan represents the coach's detail plans for the upcoming week's opponent. It is entirely based upon the team's playbook and personnel taken in light of the current competition. The game plan is multi-faceted with specific plans for offense, defense and special teams.

Entrepreneurs must be organized and have a plan of action, call it priorities for the day, week and month or they can get consumed by all of the issues, problems and details associated with starting a new business. A Rolling 12-Week Cash Flow Budget is a key component of the game plan for an entrepreneur launching a new business. Follow the cash; manage the cash to have a successful game plan.

#5 Game Time Adjustments

A great football team adjusts its game plan real-time during the game
in response to outcomes on the field. Teams that wait until halftime to adjust are typically losers.

Business is exactly the same. Adjustments must be made constantly, many on the fly with little time to analyze and debate the alternatives. Slow decision-making processes do not fly in an entrepreneurial setting. In fact, I can tell right now that your Business Plan is wrong (that doesn't mean you should not prepare one!). It is wrong and as a new business owner, you should expect to have to make changes. These changes need to be made decisively and timely.


As it turns out, football is a business, and business is really a game! Play to win! Approach your business start up like the head coach approaches a new season, be organized and plan endlessly, but when the whistle blows be ready for those game time adjustments.

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