It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m watching football. I enjoy watching football, but it hasn’t always been this way.
I didn’t play the game in high school, and up until a couple of years ago I didn’t find the game all that interesting to watch. There were several rules that I found confusing and I didn’t really understand all the positions.
A couple of years ago however, I made an observation about the game (from my vantage point as a very casual observer) that caused me to start appreciating it, and wanting to watch it more often.
The observation that I made, was that, in many ways, how the game is played is very similar to being an entrepreneur.
What struck me was the concept of “forward progress”.
It seemed to me that this was the most important aspect of the game. As long as there was a steady supply of forward progress – enough to obtain the requisite first downs as the team marched down the field – then eventually the team would score.
That was the goal of the game. Score, and score often – as much as you can.
All scoring depended however on the team’s ability to continually progress forward.
Once I understood this principle, the game started to make more sense to me, and I really saw a parallel to life as an entrepreneur because,
Survival as an entrepreneur absolutely depends on the ability to continually progress forward.
Innovation, branding, new markets, domestic growth, international expansion, market share, exceptional customer service – these are all just concepts that suggest that a company, or entrepreneur is maintaining forward progress in their operations.
They are getting better at what they do, offering better products or more efficient and effective services to a greater number of people.
In the end, it’s all about forward progress.
Even tiny progress is still progress, and in the game of football (just like the game of business) “inches” (as Al Pacino famously said) can make the different between a win and a loss.
The parallels between entrepreneurship and football don’t stop there. There are many others that I can see as well. Here are a few:
The relationship between risk and reward.
A “hail mary” pass (or marketing effort) may result in a quick touchdown (or profit opportunity) but the larger the potential payout the larger the potential risk.
The importance of understanding “market feedback”
In football if the defence picks up on your pattern and strategy quickly you have to adapt. If you keep doing the same thing, with a defence that is aware – and has successfully adapted – then your offence will sputter.
Same in business – you have to be adaptive to market feedback. If you aren’t getting the results that you want then there is a problem that you must correct. Perhaps your product isn’t providing the value that you hoped it would. Perhaps your service, or operating systems, need to be tweaked to provide top value to customers.
There are likely many others – I’m sure that I will discover them.
So don’t feel guilty if you indulge a little in some Sunday afternoon football watching. You’re working on your business :)