The NFL has a play for you, small business, so huddle up
My favorite season of the year is upon us—football season, obviously—and it can serve as a great source of inspiration not just for the couch potatoes of the nation, but for small-business owners as well.
Here are a few key lessons that you can take away from the gridiron and put to work immediately in your own business.
A small amount of loyal fans trumps a large amount of apathetic ones: One of the most successful football markets in the country is Green Bay, Wis., a city with a mere population of approximately 106,000. Compare this with Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the U.S., which has been unable to keep a pro team. The reason—and the difference—is the loyalty and passion from the fans.
Having a core loyal group of customers who rave about your business, patronize your business regularly and find ways to do even more business with you can be the holy grail for a company. While it's tempting to focus your marketing efforts on finding new customers, there's a strong business case for spending much of your marketing time and money on your existing customer base.
In fact, the NFL is a veritable case study in engagement. From the Packer fans being able to become shareholders of the team to the booming billion-dollar fantasy football industry, NFL fans feel involved in and connected to the business in many different ways.
Involving your customers and having them feel some sense of extended engagement with your business will only heighten your success.
If you can strongly engage fans even in the most niche market, you can build out a strong sustainable business for years to come. So, sometimes thinking small but deep is the best path to success.
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Blocking and tackling wins games: If you study the pro teams over the course of any given season, teams don't win consistently because of double reverses, fake punts, flea-flickers or "Statue of Liberty" plays (when's the last time you saw that one in the NFL?).
Football teams win because of the good old everyday "blocking and tackling." That means that they protect the ball, limit turnovers and dropped passes, make easy tackles, protect their quarterback and know their plays inside and out.
The same focus on the basics is the key to success in your business. While it is tempting to want to chase the next new social media tool, to do a PR stunt or enact that shiny new strategy that everyone is talking about, your business will benefit from practicing the same basic business tenets that have been around for decades.
Know, live and communicate your value proposition. Make sure that you don't drop the ball with your customers. Take advantage of easy opportunities to inspire repeat business. Have strong systems that are clearly communicated throughout your organization (or with your partners).
Those business practices are what make for winning organizations, both on the football field and in your business.
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Having the right players on the team is critical: The NFL spends a great deal of time evaluating talent, from scouting and drafting to training camp, ongoing evaluation and personnel changes during each season. Having the right roster of top level, complementary players in each position who can work well together is the make or break art and science of pro football.
In fact, they may pay up for a key player in a position even when there is another pro available to increase their chances of winning.
This goes for a small business too. And while your business may only use certain individuals as contractors instead of employees or may choose to partner with firms for tasks such as legal and marketing, that doesn't let you off the hook for getting the best people that you can.
It is tempting to cheap out and hire your Uncle Ira as your lawyer or to forgo your top choice of employee because they are seeking a more expensive salary, but these decisions can turn out to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The best team possible sets the tone inside your business that creates success for your business.
So, now you have an excuse to watch even more NFL football this year, as doing so can help you to grow and strengthen your business.
—Carol Roth is a CNBC contributor, the host of WGN radio's "The Noon Show" and best-selling author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." Follow her on Twitter:@CarolJSRoth.