Think you can’t learn anything from the Super Bowl unless you’re a die-hard football fan? Think again. The Super Bowl is a uniquely American event that brings together not just sports fans but business lessons – plenty of which we can apply to our lives as small business owners, business professionals and yes, even those just starting out.
You don’t get to the Super Bowl without being the best but let's be honest some of the teams that make the Big Game weren’t the best ALL season. In thee 2007-2008 National Football League season, the New York Giants lost their first two regular season games but scraped together a 10-6 record to get to the playoffs. They hadn’t won a playoff game in seven years and had to face divisional rivals the Dallas Cowboys in Texas and play the Green Bay Packers in frozen Wisconsin before they advanced. Then, and this is big, they faced the UNDEFEATED New England Patriots. The final score: Big Blue 17; Patriots 14.
Lesson One: Mental Preparation Matters
This is at the top of my list because I feel it gets overlooked. Putting your game face on is as important in business as it is in sports. Experience certainly has a place in preparation but wallowing in all the things that can/will/have gone wrong isn’t effective prep; it’s setting your team, and yourself up to fail. If Big Blue headed into Super Bowl XLII with the mentality of the stinging loss to the Patriots four weeks before at home…the ending may have been different. Take the experience but don’t dwell there; use it as spring board to move behind it.
Lessons Two: Remain poised
Not sure looking to football for examples of how to remain poised is smart? Football games can change on a dime - as this year’s Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers championship game and college football’s National Championship proved.
Being able to go with the flow, regardless of what is going on around you, is essential if you’re looking for a win. Sometimes, things happen – generally at the worst possible time. How you respond tells a client, a customer (yes, there’s a difference) and a prospect a lot about you and how you handle your business.
Example? Last night, the New England Patriots come from behind win to clinch the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy says it all.
Lesson Three: Let the light shine
In the Super Bowl, everyone wants top players on the field but that’s not always true in business, and it should be. Some bosses don’t like to admit an employee is better at something than they are. Don’t be that boss. If you have a talented, articulate employee who can sell ice to an Eskimo – use them. You’ll have more wins playing as a team than if you just relied on one or two top people.
I’ve found it also helps to build employee morale. If you constantly take your employees ideas or work as your own it can build resentment and employee engagement can plummet.
Lesson Four: Something for everyone
Back in the days before the Super Bowl had a whole weekend named after it, a lot of people wanted nothing to do with the big game. A lot businesses played off that and marketed to those individuals. Those days are gone. The Super Bowl draws an audience from nearly every demographic – if not for the game than for the commercials, and the Halftime Show, which has taken on a life of its own. Super Bowl commercials made a name for themselves, too – sparking enough interest for a pre-Super Bowl Sunday television show that highlights the best commercials.
It make take longer than you'd like but focusing on your core audience and finding new ways to expand your business is possible.
Lesson Five: Celebrate what you do best
The Super Bowl use to be one day – the last Sunday in January – but in five decades it’s evolved into its own holiday. The Super Bowl is more than just a championship game with some friends. It's parties or a weekend getaway to Atlantic City or Vegas or wherever. It has all the fs anyone could want: family, friends, fun, food, and of course, football.
Others have tried to duplicate the NFL’s success – remember the American Football League or the Xtreme Football League?
No one celebrates what they do best – at least in my opinion – better than the NFL. The National Hockey League is a distant – very distant – second. The NFL…every year the celebration and activities around the Super Bowl are bigger; regardless of the teams playing. You might not have the seemingly endless funds as the NFL but you can still celebrate what you do best. Remember, the Super Bowl evolved into a weekend-long holiday celebration. It didn't begin there. Start small and stay true to what you do best.