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Sports Teams Can't Be Successful Without Strong Players. Your Business Can't Be Either. From raises to teamwork to hiring and firing, having a sports team mentality helps put running a business in perspective. Here's why.

By Eric Elliott Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The world of entrepreneurship can be a lonely place. It's easy to get lost in the weeds of running a business, especially when so many other things need to be done every day. But if you want to grow your business into something great, you must ensure that you're doing everything necessary to build a solid foundation for success.

One of the most critical factors in building a solid foundation is running your business as though it were a sports franchise. There can never be a successful sport without a strong team behind it. And just like a professional athlete has to train hard and eat right to stay at their peak level of performance, entrepreneurs have to do the same thing to succeed.

Running a business isn't about being lucky or having good ideas: It's all about putting in the work and making wise decisions. If you want to create a thriving company, you have to put in the time and effort to ensure that you're always moving forward.

Related: 8 Tips to Get Your Business Going, Even if You Don't Know Where to Start

What first crosses your mind when thinking of a successful sports franchise like Chicago Bulls? Is it Michael Jordan? Or maybe Scottie Pippen?

They both had exceptional skills and talent, but Phil Jackson led them into six NBA championships. He was the coach who built the winning culture and helped them become a dynasty. Here are three reasons you should treat your business like a sports franchise and what we can learn from coaches, with tips on how to do it, too:

Teamwork is key to success

In sports, teamwork is the key to success. When everyone works together towards a common goal, nothing is impossible. Teams that can come together and find ways to support each other usually win more games and often championships.

If you want to build a successful business, you must learn to embrace the idea of working together as a team. That means you need to hire people that buy into the vision of the team and can help you achieve your goals. Having a vision, processes and the right team are the key ingredients for building a dynasty. Think of every great team that had a great sports run, that team bought into the vision of the franchise and became not only the team to beat but the team that all players wanted to join. . As an entrepreneur, every time your team runs a campaign, creates a slogan or concept, you are taking the field. On the field, on the court, or in a stadium your team must operate as a unit for the win.

Related: 5 Tips to Start a Business the Right Way

Everyone has a role to play

Like a sports team, no single person can take over another's role. Instead, everyone needs to play their part and contribute to the team's overall success. That's true even if you're the CEO of a company. As long as you delegate tasks appropriately, you'll be able to accomplish much more than if you try to do everything yourself.

For instance, let's say you're an entrepreneur who wants to start a new business. You might not know everything about marketing, sales or customer service. However, you still have to figure out those roles and assign them to qualified members of your team. Think of this as breaking from a team huddle and assigning a role to each team member to execute the play. As an entrepreneur, you can focus on the vision for the brand while the best team members play their position and handle the day-to-day operations.

Do the best players always win?

The answer is no, the best players don't always win. The most prepared players have the best chance of winning. The best players learn from their losses and create a pathway to a better season. To equate losses and wins with business, when you have a bad month or quarter, you make adjustments. You pivot your position and become more aware. You learn when to sub in players (team members) and rotate positions.

For instance, look at Michael Jordan. No one talks about the over 9,000 shots he missed and 300+ games he lost — all we see is his greatness and the number of titles he won. We see his highlights on the basketball court but not highlights from practice, dedication and studying of the playbook. Michael Jordan was a prepared player, in addition to his tremendous skills he demanded the best from himself and the franchise.

Related: This Is How Sports Helped an Individual To Become a Better Entrepreneur

Similarly, the best entrepreneurs don't just succeed because they're lucky; they're the ones who consistently execute great strategies, continuously learn, and continue to improve every year. If you want to grow your business, you need to work hard and stay focused. In sports, the best coaches and players continue to watch films and become students of their sport.

Now that you understand the benefits of treating your business like a sports team, here are the steps you need to take to make sure you get there:

  1. Focus on building a strong team. If you want to run a successful business, surround yourself with more brilliant people. That means finding employees who are more experienced and hiring them to help take care of the daily operations of your business — but don't stop there. As an entrepreneur, your job is to work on the business and not in the business. Focus on the future of your business and your team members will hold you accountable for the present. To truly thrive, you should look for people who have different skillsets and bring new perspectives to the table, because no two businesses are alike. So by bringing together a diverse group of experts, you'll be able to learn from each other and come up with fresh ways to solve problems.
  2. Don't be afraid of failure. One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is thinking failure is bad. They assume that if they fail, then they've wasted their time and money, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, failure is an inevitable part of life. No matter what you do, some things are bound to go wrong. When this happens, it's better to accept the results and move on rather than try to fix the problem. For example, let's say that you're trying to sell products through Amazon. You spend months creating high-quality items, but you sell less than expected. Instead of getting upset over the situation, focus on learning from your failures to avoid repeating them in the future. Failing forward is part of life, and in business, it's the lessons that we learn in our losses that motivate us toward our wins.
  3. Keep learning. When you think about it, running a business is similar to playing a sport. Just like athletes have to practice and get stronger every day, you must keep improving to reach your goals. Since you're probably already spending hours doing research, reading books and attending seminars, why not use those resources to improve your knowledge base? After all, you'll become a better leader and manager when you know more about your industry. Every good coach or franchise owner learns from other teams, continuous knowledge can help you understand your sport better while your playing enhances your experience. Whether you're looking to expand your network or build a stronger brand, you should always look for ways to grow.

You'll soon see the results as long as you follow the above rules and tips. Once you do, there will be no going back. Now take your team and win a championship.

Related: 5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Pro Sports Teams

Eric Elliott

Entrepreneur & CEO

Eric Elliott is a marketing expert who has been in the field for nearly two decades. A serial entrepreneur, Elliott is the head of three companies and is considered a marketer's marketer. Elliott has spoken at events and conferences on creative marketing, digital marketing and entrepreneurship.

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