Why Business Owners’ Skills Aren’t Like Baseball Players’ Skills

Sep 15, 2010 | Competing in Today's Economy, General, Getting Out of a Business Slump, Increasing Customer Traffic, Small Business Advice

A friend of mine called to ask if I’d like to go to a baseball game, and I told him that I couldn’t go.  Our Destination BootCamp is next week, and there’s a lot of work preparing for 30 business owners to arrive here for that two and one-half day workshop.

But what I didn’t share with him was if the BootCamp wasn’t next week, I still wouldn’t have gone.  You see, I’ve really never liked baseball, and that’s mostly because I stunk at playing it.  I tried to play it, but I was horrible, so that bad experience transfered into my dislike of watching it.

Playing baseball was always frustrating for me because I couldn’t hit the ball, and I couldn’t really catch it.  I was slow running the bases.  For some reason, my baseball cap just always seemed to look dorky on me and cool on the other kids.  Since none of my older brothers played baseball, I knew none of the rules, and it wasn’t too long after my parents quit signing me up for Little League teams that I decided that I didn’t like baseball that much anyway.

But I was thinking last night while drinking a Sawtooth about how not having the skills to perform a sport is different from how most business owners think about their skills to create a successful business.  For example, I readily admit I can’t hit or throw a baseball well.  But when I explain to an owner that they need help with their advertising, they’ll say things like: “Advertising in a newspaper doesn’t work.”  They don’t say: “You’re right. I am not good at creating newspaper ads and call-to-actions that get results.  I need someone to help me with this.”  Instead, they blame the newspaper.  It’s not their involvement in the ad creation; it’s that ink on newsprint that causes their customers to stay away.

That’s like me saying: “This bat doesn’t move fast enough and this glove doesn’t close over the ball!”

The most successful business owners don’t blame the ball and bat.  They readily admit that they lack business skill sets, and they find resources who can help them do what they can’t.  They delegate.  They network with people smarter than they are.  They ask for help when they’re stumped.

But out there in left field, you’ll often find the most unsuccessful owners thinking they’re doing everything they could, and thinking that they’re doing it well.  Something else or someone else is to blame for their sales decline and their customers not coming in.  And every now and then you’ll hear them yell:  “When is someone going to give me a new glove and a faster bat?”

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