by Tony Vidler
Great teams leave as little as possible to chance.
There is a lot to like about successful sports teams, especially the way they continue to challenge themselves year after year to perfect their craft and tips the odds of success in their favour. There is also a lot that we in business can learn from watching how they do it.
Look at the Picture below….no, this is not the team. This is just the coaching team for the GWS Giants Swans (an Australian Rules football team) from a couple of years ago.
18 of them.
There’s only 18 players on the field at any time for the team – that’s one coach per player on the field.
Analysts, sports scientists, physiotherapists, head trainer, runner, development coach, assistant coaches…..and of course the Head Coach. The Head Coach is in charge and ultimately is accountable for the performance of his team, but what is clear these days is that great teams have a leader who is focused on the strategy and managing the resources effectively.
The Head Coach then has staff watching details and managing particular functions that contribute to effective team performance.
Any small to medium sized business owner should consider using the same structure. Perhaps not eighteen to begin with, but you have to start somewhere and build the structure that supports the owners ability to focus on strategy and the effective management of the resources.
In any given business the owner is at some point fulfilling all of the following functions:
….and the list can go on and on of course. But just the first 6 on this list are enough work for 4 people at least, and each of them requires different knowledge or skills.
The number one job of the business owner – like the head coach – is to focus on the strategy (the game plan! ) and then manage the resources to execute it successfully.
It makes good sense for a business person to bring in coaches and specialists for some of these functions. Financial management is a critical area which can make or break any business for instance. Looking beyond the vital need to manage financial information and interpret it accurately and use it wisely, smart financial management would also ensure that there are lines of credit or reserves of capital available to be able to execute expansion plans or dig the business out of a temporary hole (like seasonal fluctuations).
In the same vein, marketing is an area that is often the difference between a small business staying small or not. It is an area where many business owners lack deep expertise, and where bringing in coaches or consultants can generate a relatively quick return. Indeed, it is arguably one of the smarter investments any business owner can make, if they want their business to grow.
As a starting point to building the full coaching team one might ensure that the financial management is nailed down, seeing as that is the one thing which can cripple even a great business. Getting the right expert managing and reporting on the data, and then building the right relationships with banks, lenders, and trade creditors to ensure working or expansion capital is available as required would be the logical first area for specialist resources.
Marketing would be next, as the achievement of the strategy and business plan will largely hinge upon finance and marketing – they drive the creation of opportunity. After the creation of opportunity it will probably be necessary for most to begin focusing upon efficiency and margin management, so bringing in some infrastructure or expertise on operations and customer service will become priorities. Through it all the business owner needs to stay focused on the strategy, and being the head coach and cheerleader.
Who was it who said “the most important thing is to stay focussed on the most important thing”?
Having coaches and expert outsourced support services enable a business owner to do exactly that.
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(Footnote: thanks to the reader who picked up that it was NOT the coaching staff from the Sydney Swans)0