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College Football vs. Business Success – Same Game?

Down. Set. Hut 1, Hut 2, Hut 3!

I can’t watch any football game without getting a tinge of excitement when I hear these three words. Will the quarterback be the hero and march his team to the endzone? Will the linebacker break through the gap and crush the running back for a loss? As a former college quarterback, I know firsthand the elation of earning a victory over great competition. I like college sports better than pro because you have so much talent and potential without a lot of the ego. Many of the kids playing know that this is the last time they will ever play competitively and simply do it for the love of the game, the thrill of the fight, the pride of knowing you did your best.

Since college football just kicked off, let’s take some lessons from college football that can be applied to business. Whether you are a diehard Gator, Golden Knight, Hurricane or Seminole fan- it is all the same. My oldest son went to Mississippi State University and my youngest son goes to the University of Arizona so I have to root for those two schools this time of the year, however now that I am a Florida resident, I have been told by more than one person that I need to pick a Florida football side. I am leaning towards the UCF Golden Knights as I have a lot of respect for a team that continues to get “little respect” even after all that they have accomplished, but maybe you can change my mind. Why should I root for your team? Send me an email and tell me why I should root for your school, ok?

Florida is a sports state and many business owners I meet were former athletes. Many of them learned the value of hard work, teamwork on the gridiron, courts, tracks, and mats and carried those qualities into their businesses directly and corporate America more broadly.

Here are three lessons that I learned from my time in college sports:

1. Preparation is critically important to winning.

There is an adage that football is won in practice and played in games. Even incredibly talented teams don’t just get on the field and win. They go to practice, they work out, they condition year-round. Business often has a seasonality to it. “Our summer season is important.” “Black Friday through Christmas are the most important sales days” Etc. Similar to football, one can’t just excel during that timeframe without preparation. Making sure you are prepared and that everyone has been trained is key to any success. One thing I find interesting in many businesses is how training is often reduced since it is a non-revenue producing activity. However, this is penny smart, pound foolish thinking. You have to think about what is good for the long term of the business. Give them the tools to succeed.

2. Understand the Game and Know  the Playbook

One of the first lessons they teach in business school is about USP- your unique selling point. What makes you different (better) than your competition? To be able to accurately answer this, you must first know who your competition is and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You must know what they are doing well and then do that better. This can be in sales, support, operations. Your team must also know what they are expected to do. Does your team share in your vision? Is the only time you talk to your team is  when something needs to be corrected or do you praise them when they are doing well? I am a believer in frequent and PURPOSEFUL meetings with your team. Let them feel included, empowered. You are the coach. Your job is the bring out the best in every person on your team and make sure you have the right players with the right talent for the right positions.

3. You Must Execute.

Training, planning, and understanding yours and your competitor’s playbook doesn’t matter if you don’t execute when the time comes. Every day are you doing what it takes to win? Are you following your plan or are you winging it? Are you making the phone calls and shaking the hands of the right decision makers? Are you creating and following the SOPs and processes that you believe are necessary to win? Are you leading from the front and setting the best example?

Bringing it all together.

Preparation, Studying and Execution are necessary to win in business. And even more importantly to some, helps teams win football games. Although the jury is still out for me on which Florida Football team to cheer for, know that as a business owner, I am always rooting for you to win so best of luck this fall to your college football team and to your business as well!

Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant

Darrin Rohr

Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.