As much as it pains me to say – Congratulations to the Washington Nationals. The talking heads were right! In spite of all odds they showed up when it counted and won the World Series. And… they taught me some great business lessons along the way.

Baseball is America’s National Pastime. Hot dogs, players in cool uniforms, great marketing, and the crack of the bat. In fact, many times I schedule my life around watching my Atlanta Braves – yes I do. In reflection of this past season I realized there are many correlations between the Washington Nationals and baseball (and sports in general) that apply to our business. So please excuse the many baseball analogies – especially if you are not into baseball or sports (yee gad!)

baseball player hitting

Change Your Strategy

In business as in sports, strategy must change with the environment. A business owner must constantly tweak and adjust as marketing is not quite having the results that you expect or want. The Washington Nationals Coach adjusted the game plan mid game or mid inning as the case may be. He  changed his pitcher to pitch to a specific batter – and that depended upon who the Astros sent up to bat. The Washington Nationals did this to perfection during the playoff games. They were agile with their pitching when something wasn’t working – or when the star pitcher had a health issue – the day of the game. They adjusted and they had a backup plan in place.

We must do this to constantly tweak our “pitches” to our target audience. This social media post didn’t perform as well as expected. Our website is not converting the way we thought. This freebie you thought was great is not gathering attention. The billboard sign is being passed by.

We look at numbers and time spent on a campaign so rather than throwing it all away, we adjust. We test. We know what worked in the past or what we think will work in the future. Recently I made a post to my Facebook page on Sunday at noon to see what would happen. Most of my followers are small business owners so I thought why not – many will check email after Sunday morning activities – church or Sunday breakfast. It failed miserably – and when I say miserably – I mean bad. So either my message was wrong and I didn’t get the results I was hoping for or my timing was bad. My game was off. The photo was eye catching and I asked a question looking for engagement. Crickets… or silent bats to keep with the analogy.

I made an adjusted and posted another post a few days later. Bam… timing was right and engagement was happening – game on.

Bring in the Right People for What You Need at the Time

Teams have specialists for specific tasks. Many football teams have a player than only comes in to hike the football to the kicker. Baseball teams have closers – pitchers than come in just to “close” the game when the win can be assured – or at least the percentages will be in their favor. They have designated hitters – power hitters that can hit under pressure. The Washington Nationals proved this year they had the best of all the specialties. Businesses should have the same.

Successful businesses have people that handle their bookkeeping or social media or even clean their offices. The percentage of winning is in their favor when they bring in team members that will work on their specific “zones of genius.”  My zone of genius is not in cleaning my kitchen floor or making sure my numbers are making sense. I am a website designer and a terrific marketer but I’m not particularly technical. I have a team member that is technical and is responsible for making my websites live. I have an SEO team member that eats, lives and breaths google. I bring in my designated hitter when I need these tasks done.

Work on Your Mindset

Ahhh… mindset. What can make or break an athlete or a sports team. What gives them the competitive edge and allows them to succeed. Teams hire coaches specifically to deal with an athlete’s mindset – be it handling the pressure of the winning field goal, or working with the frame of mind to compete.

This past May, the Washington Nationals were 12 games under .500 with a 19-31 record. They were still confident, knowing that only 8 teams in the history of baseball had made it to the playoffs that far behind. They knew they had the team – once key players returned from injury. They knew it was temporary. They knew what number they felt they needed to hit in games won going forward to be playoff bound. They set their goals and adjusted their mindset to win – in spite of the odds. They put the work in. They were patient. Sound familiar?

How does this translate to a business and business owner? First of all – this can be years and volumes of work on mindset so the intention here is not to do a mindset overhaul. The intention is just to become aware of how much of a role mindset plays in our everyday business. We talk about setting goals and working on the mindset of a business owner. What is that exactly?

For example – I struggle with an “employee mindset.” I’m much better but I still am aware and conscious of it every day.

What is an employee mindset? To keep it very simple, it’s what we as business owners do that someone else can do for us. It’s the easily delegated daily tasks that are an everyday part of running our business. I have a client that owns a successful multiple 6 figure business. He makes the sales and he and his partner run the business. He travels and brings in clients. He also ships his own stock, does his own invoicing and “manages” his SEO. His employee mindset is keeping his business from 10xing over the next few years. And yes, we do have conversations about it!

For me – it’s – gulp – letting someone else handle the actual work on my client websites. It’s hiring someone to handle my social media. It’s looking for a VA (still in process) that can take over some of the day to day operations. This way I can write blogs, make videos, network and have “boss time” to grow my business. When I’m bogged down in the day to day I can’t be the forward thinker to grow my business.

Ask yourself – what activities are you doing that is part of your employee mindset and holding back your business?

Changing Things Up

The Washington Nationals have a lineup of players in order to make the most of who’s hot at the plate – i.e. who is hitting consistently. In a sport where 30% success is newsworthy – hitting consistently is important. The lineup will vary depending upon certain factors in the upcoming game. Who the opposing pitcher is. What type of pitches – power or movement – the pitcher excels with. Is he right or left handed? Opposing coaches look at all these variations when deciding on who plays and the order in which they hit.

For business owners, what does this mean?

  • If your message is not resonating with your target audience and they are not flocking to work with you, it may be time to adjust your variables.
  • If your “freebie” is not drawing email submissions, then you may need to change the “freebie” topic.
  • If your business is not as profitable as it should be, where can you cut or adjust or make better choices?
  • You may simply need to adjust and tweak your ideal client and target market.

To have a winning team – in baseball, football or business – it takes a perfect circle of knowledge, expertise, trial and error, practice, mindset, coaching and great players. Each will bring to the team their piece of the puzzle and their own characteristics that complete the whole. Like a well oiled machine, a team will produce, excel and win. Doesn’t every business owner want that?

How have you won with  your business lately? What new skill can you learn or practice that will enable your business to go to the playoffs? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page. Now… Go Braves! 

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