Being a Seattle sports fan is really tough these days, but I figure there are lessons learned even in lost seasons. I’m generally the biggest optimist in the room when it comes to the Seahawks each year to make it to the Super Bowl, I’m now convinced it’s not going to happen. However, even in the ugly win against one of the worst teams in NFL this past Sunday against Detroit, I thought there was a good lesson to be applied to our businesses. The lesson is that there is nothing wrong with dinking away to success. Let me explain.
Even if you don’t follow football, you should know being down 17-0 is a bad thing. Seattle was down 17-0 almost immediately after the game started. They tried running the ball to no avail and after being that far down, they had to change plans to pass their way to success. And pass they did. Over and over and over again. They didn’t pass long with only 2 passes over 25 yards and 39 completions in a game, the most ever for a Seattle quarterback. They eventually won the game 32-20. The defense couldn’t stop the short passes and Seattle kept taking what was available to them all the way to victory.
I can’t help thinking that we should be running our businesses that way. When we find something that is successful on a small scale, we should keep executing and take the small gains, it will add up to success if not a huge win. I met with an entrepreneur last week that mentioned that he’s seeing success, but he wants to change the model and GO BIG. I couldn’t help but wonder, you’re doing great right now and if you focused more and kept taking what is obviously successful, couldn’t you build a big business just executing what you know is working? It’s a huge gamble to change what’s working and throw the long bomb, sure it can work and will pay off handsomely, but your percentage chance of success is significantly lower than taking the dink pass high percentage move. This is not a rant against taking chances, but continue taking what’s there. You can still test new models without betting the farm and if it works slowly shift your model.
I’d argue that finding a successful model is not easy, if it were easy we’d see a lot more entrepreneurs. Once you find the model that works, keep at it and the pennies will add to dollars and it will keep rolling. For me, it’s taken at least 1-2 years to get a model that’s barely working and then a few more years to really refine it. I’m constantly battling all the new ideas that can be HUGE, but have to temper it with what is working now and taking the 5-10 yard gains every play rather than try to get the touchdown in 1 play. In football terminology, it’s a field position game, keep good position, keep the ball moving and stay in the game – that’s how upsets and wins happen. I’m convinced it’s being disciplined and focused, staying true to a plan that requires patience, hard work, and consistency that leads to success. What do you think? Do you fight the same battle? Or, do you want to keep tossing the long bombs hoping for that big reception?
Now, if the Seahawks can just win the next game… just maybe, we can still make it!