By this time in a normal year, the boys of summer would be digging in and be giving it all they’ve got, and we would know that late spring is upon us. The optimism of a successful season would abound and the grass on the field would start to look that much greener.
Teams would have been chosen. Decisions would have been made on who would take the lead and manage the team. We would know who will fill what positions. Everyone would be expected to know their role, focus and have a goal to exceed expectations with the hope of being successful.
But not in the year 2020, the year of COVID-19, the year of the pandemic that sidelined so many things.
You would think we were discussing baseball. Instead you were thrown a curve ball and you were caught not looking. This week we revisit a column I wrote about business with a baseball theme. So we are talking business and not necessarily baseball. However we will be using some tips from baseball to help you make better pitches, run your operation more smoothly and create some hits as we return to business and begin reopening in the hopes we can still manage to have a winning season.
The pitch: Whether you are just starting out or have been running your business for decades, having the right pitch is critical to earning new business and keeping existing business 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. It is important to note that I threw you a curve earlier. 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 and make sure you run in a way that you have enough control over your movements to touch all the bases, be aware of where you are and have a good idea of where you are heading next. Those suggestions are keys to help run a successful business.
A quick word about team and team work: When you are forming a baseball team you want your players with the most skill in a certain position to play that position. Some of the best teams in baseball have had numerous star players or even some who would be considered superstar players on the same team. Big league stars and superstars tend to come with a superstar salary. In business, you may want the best team available, but the reality is you may not be able to afford the top talent. Consider forming your team with a core group of essential players first. These players would be 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 or person in that position. While we have been primarily focusing on offense, a successful team provides excellent defense as well. You need to have a team that works together.
Making contact and getting hits: It is critical in baseball for the bat to make contact with the ball to get a hit. This also holds true for making a hit when it comes to your business. You need to make contact with your customers. Customers are smart, and because of the internet-based information available to them, like a business “scouting report,” 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 and send it screaming out of the ballpark, runs are scored when players are on base. That means 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. All is good when the errors and uncontrolled actions are occurring with your competition or the competing team. Just remember there may be times your team is racking up the errors and allowing the other team to benefit from your miscues or bad pitches. Do your best each and every 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 player, three outs per inning and nine innings to try and win the game. In business, it is not always the case. You may not have the luxury of three swings before you are called out. And there is a possibility that if you are 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 customers' 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 or have a an opportunity to have a winning season. Let’s just say if you follow some of these tips there is a chance you will connect. Looks like the ball has a pretty good sting on it, and it is heading for the fence. He’s going back, back, back to the wall! Sounds like it’s time for some business-ball.