The Invaluable Business Strategy I Learned from Basketball

(By Gary Vaynerchuk)

This run-and-gun strategy is how businesses need to operate to stay in the game. I have watched numerous companies sidelined because they spend too much time on the defense, always reacting—“This happened, so we need to do that,” “this customer complained,” “there’s an internal issue with this.” If you are only reacting to things, when are you moving your business forward?

Stop playing defense and start playing offense if you want your business to skyrocket.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 12, growing up in my family’s business. From there I founded a few companies of my own and have advised, invested in and consulted for more than 100 others. Big or small, Fortune 100 or a startup of two people, the one thing I noticed with all these companies is that I approach business differently than most. Where did my unique strategy come from? A college basketball coach.
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Loyola Marymount’s college basketball team caught my eye. It was coached by Paul Westhead, a visionary coach who devised a run-and-gun strategy known as “The System,” which was run to perfection by players like Bo Kimble and the late Hank Gathers. Sadly, the team garnered a lot of notoriety when Hank Gathers passed away on the floor after a game, but what I will always remember them for is that they used to score 130 to 150 points a game. They would just run and gun, and their offense would always outscore the other team.

This run-and-gun strategy is how businesses need to operate to stay in the game. I have watched numerous companies sidelined because they spend too much time on the defense, always reacting—“This happened, so we need to do that,” “this customer complained,” “there’s an internal issue with this.” If you are only reacting to things, when are you moving your business forward?

It’s time to stop playing defense and go on the offense. It’s a mindset that if you (and your company) can adopt, will succeed every time. There are always opportunities to play offensively, especially if you’re a young, growing company. Sure, there will always be plenty of issues and flaws, but being on the offense helps you get past the issues and flaws. Being on the offense is where you score the points; it’s where you will succeed.

Take, for example, the Facebooks and Chipotles of the world; they all run their businesses on the offense. These companies certainly had their issues—the formula wasn’t quite right on that new taco or a negative-PR-machine-of-a-movie came out about the founder—but they each got past it because they focused on their strengths. I’m not saying you should ignore your problems, but consciously address them and use your strengths to move forward.

When companies can focus on the offense, trying to take it to their opponent’s basket instead of defending their own, they’ll be way more prepared to do business in this fast-paced world. As the stakes get higher, as more people use social media to pick at you, you can’t be crippled by being defensive. You need to be on the offense.

(Source: Openforum)

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