By: Mandy B. Fernandez, Marketing and Office Administrator, Florida SBDC at UWF
Northwest Florida has some serious pigskin fans and everyone is knee-deep into football season right now. The same can be said for local entrepreneurs in the area. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region is growing, and collectively a major push has been made to revitalize the Pensacola community.
What business principles can be learned from successful entrepreneurs in our community? The same elements that apply to football can be tied to the local, determined business owners. When leaders act like a fan, work as a team player and locate a good coach, a win occurs that is celebrated by all. Here are a few ways that even non-game enthusiasts (like me) can apply football values to business.
Be a Fan
Think back to the first football game you witnessed. Recall the appealing traits of the sport. What was the attraction? There may have been some infatuation with competing and winning.The same applies to starting or buying a business. Offering that specific product or service is the only diversion entrepreneurs can keep in their mind. To put it in game terms, as a business owner, you became a fan. Now ask yourself: are you the biggest fan of your work?
MB Family Foods, LLC is the company behind “Doc's Jamaican Jerk Sauce” and “Doc's Jamaican Hot Sauce” – locally prepared and managed by Doc Bruce and Patti Maxwell of Pensacola. When asked why they went into business for themselves, they answer promptly:
“We tell our customers each day that we are our own biggest fans! We serve samples of Jamaican jerk all day and still come home and eat it for dinner. We take pride in having introduced Pensacola to authentic Jamaican sauces. Plus we care about where food comes from. Our customers can feel good knowing that our sauces not only taste incredible, but also are made with love and good righteous ingredients.”
In the last year MB Family Foods placed in the very prestigious Hot Pepper Awards. They are also winners of the Scovie Sauce Awards and were contestants in the Martha Stewart Made in America contest. When business owners like Doc and Patti carry that much excitement over their own products, they will no doubt do the work it takes to stay in the “game.” They fuel up their own passions and act as presidents of their own business fan club, making them driven and unstoppable.
Be a Team Player
The expression “There is no ‘I’ in team” is definitely true for a thriving business venture. Two sets of minds are much more powerful than one. Typically an entire team of people must work together to be victorious. To run a smooth operation, collaboration is crucial.
Marketing and communications firm owner Maria Pinochet of Kore Access, Inc. knew that after being solo for many years she needed to involve others to take her business to the next level. She reached out to local women’s groups and found company-building resources, such as the Florida SBDC at UWF. She began attending FSBDC workshops and signed up for no-cost consulting. Not long after she began to join forces with the FSBDC, she noticed her clientele increased and the visibility of her company became more well-known.
“Early in my business career, I was very competitive and did things alone in my own way. I sought recognition and awards. I traveled fast. However over time, I realized that by working more with others, like the Florida SBDC, I could go far not just fast.”
Pinochet knew that bonding with a team of driven individuals who shared common goals would help her be limitless.
Be a Coach
In business, a partner may need to team up with a “coach." That coach may be in the form of a consultant, chamber of commerce member, association or a networking group. Why would a CEO need a coach? Often the executive will need a new perspective; someone from the outside who may be able to offer a keen eye to any setbacks or concerns. The executive may be pushed by the coach to work out of their comfort zone. That push can be hard, but often exactly what is needed.
James Rockhill of The Rockhill Group, Inc. (TRG) remarks on the success of finding his own business coach.
“Like most small business start-ups, I truly felt my company and I could do anything; however with my Florida SBDC consultant’s guidance, I developed a realistic strategy to locate bid opportunities within my field of expertise.”
Through support and focused sessions with FSBDC Government Contracting Specialist “Coach,” Laura Subel, Rockhill grew from one $38,887 contract to over $72 million in government contracts.
Business owners who are successful often have the chance to become a role model for other driven entrepreneurs. Directors and presidents can employ interns or partner with a business and service-focused group, such as the Pensacola Young Professionals. A coach has the opportunity to help shape others in the community and allow other workers and companies to grow, mature and develop.
Enjoy the Victory
Think about your favorite sport and team. Remember that winning moment from the game? The same elements that apply to football can be applied to your business and vendor relationships:
- Be a fan of the business you serve and own.
- Form a good team to be successful.
- Find a coach when needed and also be a good mentor for other entrepreneurs.
Let the Florida SBDC help you make goals, retain the right people, and apply valuable resources that will help your business succeed.