I've been a huge sports fan since my early youth. In 1970, at the age of 12, I purchased my very own season tickets for the Miami Dolphins. A full season for all of $14. That’s less than $1 per game. It’s hard to imagine how that team made money at those prices.
Over the last 50 years, I've remained an avid Dolphins fan along with an assortment of other college and professional teams. Celebrating their wins and agonizing over their losses, I cannot begin to imagine the number of hours a year I spend watching sports on television.
In all that time, I never looked at these athletic franchises as models for business growth. In fact, I often found myself screaming at their respective leaders for terrible decisions made off the field that impacted their team performance. I still lament the Dolphins allowing their best players, Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield to go to the now-defunct USFL in exchange for nothing.
When I recently decided to examine these teams through an entrepreneurial lens, I was pleasantly surprised. I saw a number of great business practices that can be adopted by any growth-minded small business operator. Here are a few examples:
Most sports teams, both professional and college, have aggressive talent acquisition programs. They don’t wait for the best players to apply for jobs as most small businesses do. They are always actively recruiting the best players. They hire talent scouts responsible for identifying and securing the best possible players for their teams.
These teams also don’t wait until they lose a key player to find a replacement. Because they expect to lose players over time, they continuously recruit.
Many small businesses are guilty of looking for the same talent in the same places over and over again. Professional baseball was that way before expanding its search capabilities into South America. Now many of the game's best players originate from those Latin countries.
Action Item: Do you have one person or one department whose sole responsibility is to proactively find new talent? Are you still looking in the same places for new employees or have you expanded your geographic footprint?