Just in time for this year’s Final Four, FourBridges’s Chairman, Charlie Brock, shared the many parallels between college athletes and entrepreneursin a recent Tennessean article.
Each March, millions of people fill out their NCAA basketball brackets in hopes of correctly guessing which teams will make their way to the Final Four. While the odds of getting a perfect bracket are extremely unlikely (Warren Buffett recently told The Wall Street Journal that even Einstein couldn't figure the odds), the excitement March Madness creates is infectious.
While watching these games, I can't help but think there are many parallels between these college athletes and entrepreneurs. Just like each of the teams vying for the opportunity to win the Big Dance, every entrepreneur wants his idea to be that one-of-a-kind Cinderella story. Below are some key takeaways for entrepreneurs to remember when trying to make it big in the startup world.
- Pivot. Just like the athletes on TV, entrepreneurs must learn how and when to pivot. Changing the course of your business plan doesn't mean failure; it just shows that you possess one of the key components of being an entrepreneur — the ability to be nimble and make the necessary moves to be successful. Many great tech companies started with a different concept or business model from what they are employing today. Don't be afraid to make the necessary changes to better your business.
- Teamwork. It's always important to remember that you're only as strong as the people you have on your team. The teams that make it to the Final Four have individuals who understand their roles and have a collective chemistry that helps propel them past their opponents. The entire team should know which plays are being run, who needs to be where and how to move together with and without the ball.
- Passion. The 68 teams in the tournament all have one common thread: passion. Entrepreneurs also must have passion for what they are doing. The road to success is not always smooth, so you must truly enjoy what you're doing and have a conviction about why you are doing it, otherwise you're probably not going to withstand all the bumps throughout the journey.
- Competition. The beautiful thing about March Madness is the surprise upsets. It's even better when you can see them coming ahead of time. When deciding to start a business or take a product to the marketplace, one of the first things you should research is your competition. Your competitors could have better rankings or higher sales, but that doesn't mean they are unbeatable. A 12-seed can beat a five-seed any day — just ask the teams from Harvard, North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin. What makes your idea or business unique? Know what your strengths are and play off that.
- Rebound. Entrepreneurs must remember to embrace failure. You won't make every shot you take, and that's absolutely OK. If there were no failures in entrepreneurship, everyone would be doing it. What's most important is whether you go up to grab the ball for your next move.
About the author: Charlie Brock is CEO of Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee with the ultimate goal of fostering job creation and economic growth. Reach him at Charlie@launchtn.org and on Twitter @cebrock.
*Originally published in The Tennessean