Recently I joined a bunch of friends in starting an intramural flag football team. We’ve been playing for some weeks now and I’ve started to notice a strange parallel between an intramural team and starting a small business with partners. The parallel is so solid that it’s almost scary, because like an intramural team everyone goes into a business with big thoughts, big plans and they see the end goal moreso than they see the reality of what it will take to get that end goal.
When you join an intramural team you start to reminisce on being 18 or 21 years old and in the best shape of your life: rebounding hard, jumping to catch passes, falling and tumbling without regard to your body, knowing that injuries will heal no matter what. Yet when you go out there as an older man and you jump for that pass and fall, you may get up with a busted hip. You ran hard to catch the pass without stretching prior so you pull a hamstring and you’re finding that your healing factor is nowhere near where you remember it. All of a sudden the fun activity that you signed up for is staring to become a painful reminder that you’re getting old.
With businesses you start out and you don’t have the capital to afford all the things that you will need to get going; so you have to beat the streets, you have to make cold calls, and you have to do all these things just to get one single solitary client. Then that client may turn around and look at you and say “well, these guys don’t have their act together just yet, I don’t trust putting my money into this – so thank you, but no thanks” leaving you back at square one and your partners may start to think “now I’m struggling, we don’t have any money, I’m finding it hard to pay my bills. It may just be easier for me to go back and work for someone and forget this silly thing that weve started”.
When you lose you start to see people’s attitudes changing
On the intramural team you may start out with a few losses and depending on how well you’re doing in that early phase of the season, you start to see people’s attitudes changing. You begin to see guys not showing up to practices, guys playing half ass, and guys quitting the team. This is very similar to the small business partnership where some of them came into it not realizing that it may take a lot of time, a lot of scrambling, and a lot of luck to realize that first dollar. You lose partners, you lose employees and you start to lose a little bit of the trust you had in other people, because of all of this going on very much like an intramural team that isnt winning.
Now if you flip that around and you find something that flows well, a team of great talent (regardless of age) and having a plan come together, the interest level is unprecedented. At that point, guys are at practice early, strangers want in on your thing, people start acting very enthusiastic towards the team and business is the exact same way. You’re making money, you’re growing, big things are coming a lot faster than you expected, people who doubted you before now want to invest in your business, it’s a landslide of really good things.
Why the build-up of a team is so important
The one thing I wish on both fronts is that people would stick it out a bit more. Give new things a try and realize that with everything there is a downside and an upside. When you throw a ball down as hard as you can – depending on the material that ball is made of, it’s either going to bounce up to the ceiling or it will stay on the ground, and if it’s fragile then it may break. This is the same with the make-up of teams whether it be sports, business, or whatever. You have to know who your team is and what they are made of. This is the only way to be sure that you have those ingredients that will make your ball reverse it’s trajectory once things start going south. The same theory applies when it goes up and hits the ceiling being that it will come back down. Nothing stays in the same place forever, but this is why the build-up of that ball is important – for making it through the ebb and flow of a team’s life-cycle.
People can be funny, and people can be unreliable on many fronts. That’s why when you go into business or anything, it’s of the utmost importance that you know who it is that’s involved to know whether they are quitters, or people who will help to keep things on the level. Are you the material of success that could keep a team above the 500 line? Or are you one to jump ship at the first sign of danger? You should consider this for not only yourself but for anyone that would be on your team.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.