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The Big Game is taking place this weekend. The players and spectators are having a ball in Miami this week, getting their fill of all Super Sunday and the events leading up to it have to offer.

Whether you are on the front line of a football team or on the front line of business ownership, staying focused and keeping your eye on the ball is critical to success. Being aware of what is occurring in and around your business is something that both owners and employees should do. It sounds pretty simple to just watch the ball but sometimes that is easier said than done.

In football, the ball is easy to recognize. In business “the ball” can represent different things to different people and different businesses. It can be anything from focusing on goals and objectives, the target market, or the bottom line. Essentially “the ball” represents whatever it is that is important to the business success. It is the thing or things that need to be concentrated on each and every day. One of the main areas that businesses need to be aware of is competition. Just like in football, a strong competitor has the ability to beat you every time.

Most areas or elements of business in most industries do not move as often or as quickly as a football does during a game. However, if left unnoticed, a business can quickly experience real problems when important areas of the business are neglected. A lapse or error related to customer service, quality of products, or financial areas like pricing and cash flow can all lead to problems arising quickly for a business. The potential negative impact is even greater when competitive forces come into play.

So what can you do to make it easier to keep your eye on the ball when it comes to the competition? Huddle up and we can discuss a few options:

• Study the competition. If a business is successful doing what they have always done, it is fair to expect more of the same. You can learn quite a bit about your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses by watching what they do and how they do it.

• Look for favorable “match ups.” When it comes to services, offers and employees, you have to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Be sure you develop strategies that match up equally against other companies' employees, offerings or services. Your goal should be to have the competitive edge.

• Balance your defense and offense. It is important to remember that while you are watching the competition, they are most likely watching you as well. Don’t focus so much attention on the competition that you neglect the other areas of your business. If you only work from a defensive position in business, chances are you are not moving forward.

• Don’t get caught off guard by the Big Play. So many times you see two competitors evenly matched, battling back and forth. Then all of a sudden somebody does something totally unexpected that usually results in a big score. It can also shift the momentum and change the entire outcome of the game.

• Beat them at their own game. If you know enough about the competition to know they have or are capable of running the trick plays or big plays, you need to be diligent to stay competitive. Perhaps you should develop some strategy and consider running a big play or two of your own.

Enjoy the game! Relax with family, friends, football and food. Then get back to business next Monday. When you face the competition, and you will face the competition, remember to keep your eye on the ball.

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