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Speaking of Crazy Ideas

The crazy ideas of these sports entrepreneurs paid off big.
3 min read

This story appears in the August 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's good to think beyond the lines that define the known from the unknown. On occasion, crazy begets great.

When the notion of a sports edition made its way to the Entrepreneur newsroom (which consists of three editors and a Wii) it was, not surprisingly, met by a certain amount of hesitation. "It's insane. How can a business magazine dedicated to entrepreneurs pull off a sports issue?" Needless to say, we like it best when we're told something can't be done. We trusted our crazy idea on this one, and so we present the very unlikely, first-ever sports edition of Entrepreneur magazine.

Digging into sports team transformations proved to be powerful and thought-provoking. Ten years ago, baseball's Minnesota Twins had bragging rights as baseball's worst team. They were the real-life Bad News Bears. Fans turned their backs on the struggling organization, the stands were all but empty, and the franchise was on the brink of dissolution. But Jim Pohlad, the team's sharp-witted owner, had a different take on the situation. His thinking? Turn the team around by approaching every move as a business. He created a business plan replete with growth and expansion strategies. Pretty bold for a team one small step away from a dirt nap.

Pohlad's transformation plan played to the strengths of the franchise. He acknowledged that he could never compete dollar for dollar with big guns like the New York Yankees. But what he could do was become the most efficiently run business in baseball. Bruce Schoenfeld's story dives into the Twin's journey from peril to prosperity. If you are a small business looking to compete, his sage advice is required reading.

Equally inspiring but no less sporting is Jason Daley's conversation with Drew Brees , New Orleans Saints quarterback and patron saint of the city of New Orleans. Brees is known for his cunning on the field, but off the field he is equally skillful: He is a business owner, a franchise proponent and a supporter of entrepreneurship in a city still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

There is no greater tale of rebirth than what is taking place is New Orleans , led by the entrepreneurial efforts of the city's community and bolstered by the efforts of people like Brees. He is spearheading entrepreneurial awareness through the "Trust Your Crazy Idea" program in partnership with the city's Idea Village organization. His superstar status is palpable in a city that has become iconic not because of tragedy but in spite of it.

He and Pohlad are proving that trusting your crazy idea works--and that the entrepreneurial spirit in sports is thriving.

Amy C. Cosper

Amy C. Cosper
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy

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