The boys of summer are preparing to dig in and give it all they’ve got. The optimism of a successful season abounds and the grass is starting to look that much greener.

Teams have been chosen. Decisions have been made on who will lead and manage the team, who will fill what positions. Everyone is expected to know their role, focus, and exceed expectations.

We’re not talking baseball. You were thrown a curve and got caught looking.

We’re talking business ... just using some tips from the game to help you make better pitches, run your operation more smoothly and create some hits to help you have a winning season.

The pitch. Having the right pitch is critical to earning new business and keeping existing customers. Everyone needs a “go to” pitch, but having a variety of pitches is a very good thing. Try to adjust the speed and delivery of your pitch to match that of the customer you’re trying to reach.

In baseball, curves fool people and many times make them look silly. Customers do not like to be fooled. Save the curve balls for your competitors.

Running with purpose. Both baseball and business can require a good amount of “running.” In baseball, if you don’t run the bases properly, you don’t beat the other team. In business, if you don’t run your company properly, you don’t beat the competition.

Stay focused, make sure you run your operation so that you touch all the bases, be aware of where you are, and have a good idea of where you are heading next.

A quick word about team and teamwork. When you are forming a baseball team, you want your players in the positions where they have the most skill. You may not be able to afford stars or superstars. Consider forming your team with a core of essential players first — a limited number of key in-house employees. Then consider hiring some contracted services that are important to your business but may not require a full-time employee. You need to have a team that works together.

Making contact and getting hits. In baseball, the bat must make contact with the ball to get a hit. Same when making a hit for your business. You need to make contact with your customers. Customers are smart and because of the online information available to them, customers are going to look for and perhaps wait for the pitch that fits them best. So throw them the good stuff. Connect with them, meet their needs and you and your business are sure to be a hit.

Swing and a miss. Not all attempts to get a hit are successful. That being said, you still have to take your swings. Or do you? Do not be over anxious when it comes to making that connection. Be patient because ...

Sometimes a walk is as good as a hit. While the bigger stars in baseball are the guys that crush the ball, runs are scored when players are on base. That means that if you have an opportunity to reach first base thanks to a competitor that is pitching wildly, you want to take advantage of the weakness. You may find yourself benefiting from the lack of focus or talent of your competitors. Just remember there may be times your team is racking up the errors and allowing the other team to benefit. Do your best each time but understand we all have the potential to make errors or throw a wild pitch or two.

Know the rules and the pace of the game you are engaged in. With baseball, you get three strikes per batter, three outs per inning and nine innings to try to win the game. In business, that’s not always the case. You may not have the luxury of three swings before you are called out. And if you’re out, you may actually be “out” of business. While you can enjoy the work you do, you want to take the work you do or the business you run seriously. The goal is to “win” in business by serving your customer needs, providing quality products and services and most importantly being profitable.

Batter up! Get out there and swing for the fences. We can’t know for sure if you will hit a home run. Let’s just say if you follow some of these tips, there is a chance you will connect.

Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, can be reached at