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Triple Word Score! What Scrabble Can Teach You About Business. Lessons for your startup from everyone's favorite crossword game.

By George Deeb

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What does the game of Scrabble have to do with startups? Not much, other than being a game board sitting on the shelf in the break room. However, there are some valuable strategies you can apply from Scrabble into your startup business. Read on, this will soon start to make sense.

Shuffle your letters. I can't tell you how many times I will be blankly staring at my rack of tiles, not being able to create any words. But when I start to randomly shuffle up the letters, my brain starts to see potential words that it otherwise missed at first glance. The business lesson here is when you are challenged by a specific problem, try to look at it from multiple perspectives. A solution may present itself that was not immediately evident. Translation: think outside the box.

Related: How Brain Training Games Can Help You Build Your Business

Use your highest point letters. It sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen people play a six letter word for six points, and leave a 10-point Q sitting on their rack unused. In business, always leverage your best assets in any situation. Would you walk into a big sales opportunity leading with your stodgy controller or your firecracker salesperson? Or, as another example, don't try to sell a toaster when your strength is building blenders. Translation: focus on your core competencies.

Play the highest point space. You want your tiles to accumulate as many points as possible in one turn. For your startup, you always want to leverage your fixed investment by driving the highest possible return on investment. For example, try to close the $5,000 sale before the $2,500 sale, as the fulfillment costs behind each are the same. Translation: look for economies of scale.

Play the board, not the rack. Too often in Scrabble, people are simply focused on the seven tiles on their rack and trying to make a word as long as possible. But in Scrabble, sometimes playing one letter can be much more valuable, like playing a 10-point letter Z on a triple letter space. Don't be so focused on the trees that you can't see the forest. The point of business is to grow as quickly as you can, and the easier you make it, the better. Translation: never lose focus on the big picture goal.

Related: Turning Passion Into Profits: From Playing Games to Playing for Profit

Look for multiple word opportunities. I love when opponents only create one word on the board, simply working from one open letter. That limits their score to only that one new word. But had they added an "S" to an existing word on the board, and created a new word off that "S," they would not only have scored points for their new word, but they also would have scored points for the existing word on the board, doubling up their score in the process.

Whatever business initiatives you are launching, think through multiple ways to drive revenues. For example, at my iExplore travel business, we not only tried to drive revenue from consumer sales for our tours, we also looked for corporate sales opportunities for those tours. Translation: kill two birds with one stone to leverage your fixed investment.

Play defensively. In Scrabble, you never want to play a word (even a high-scoring word) if it opens up an opportunity for your competitor to play a word on a triple-word space in their next turn. Triple-word opportunities are the best, and fastest, opportunities to accumulate a lot of points. So take those opportunities for yourself.

Don't provide your competitors with any "low-hanging fruit" to pick up market share against you. This could be as simple as you not bidding on a major contract in your industry, allowing your competitor to walk away with it unchallenged. Or not showering your existing clients with "love" and terrific service, making it easier for your competitors to come in and steal the relationship. Translation: play to win.

Hopefully, this post not only helped improve your business strategies, but maybe you can more easily beat the next person you play in Scrabble.

Related: Is Your Product a 'Vitamin' or 'Painkiller?'

George Deeb

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Managing Partner at Red Rocket Ventures

George Deeb is the managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a consulting firm helping early-stage businesses with their growth strategies, marketing and financing needs. He is the author of three books including 101 Startup Lessons -- An Entrepreneur's Handbook.

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