As I write this, we are the midst of the 2013 NFL Season.  As a football fan myself, and someone who has coached football and multiple levels in the past for 7 years, I can’t help but make a correlation between the game of football and the game of business.

Let me explain.  Previously, you may have read some articles that I wrote related to how the NFL ruined their brand overnight, how you can be a comeback artist just like an NFL team, or how the Red Sox imploded.  As you can see, I enjoy sports and business, and sometimes those collide in our blog.  I tend to be more passionate about business than sports, but I think that is because I am always thinking creatively and trying to find new and inventive ideas to new challenges.

So let’s analyze the comparison between the game of football and your business.

Owner – This may or may not be you.  But simply put, like the owner of a professional football team, this individual bought or started the team, but is not involved in the minor details of the team.  He or she delegates by hiring individuals with unique skill sets that will result in optimum performance for the team, which is the company.

The first step an Professional Football Owner does is hire a coach.  If funds are an issue, then the owner likely coaches as well; however, that isn’t always the best situation.  In fact, it’s not only rare, but it usually ends in failure.  There is way too much work to do for both parties and combining the job can result in pieces of the either job not getting done.  Like everything in life, there is an exception to every rule, and in this case it is the immortal George Halas (right).  He was an extremely successful owner and coach, but even if you are a student of the game you will likely have difficulty finding another example of a Owner/Coach.

Coach – Every business should have a great coach.  Just like football, if the coach isn’t getting results out of the team and showing the business a good return on investment, then the owner needs to change coaches.  I am often asked about coaches and how to pick the right one.  I think with coaches, it is all about your ability as an owner to work with them.  Trust is huge.  You are opening your books and your business to your coach and you need to be able to trust them.  Additionally, communication is key.  If you have difficulty communicating with your coach, then you need to think about switching coaches.  Efficient communication is a key element to success in any business and with any team member.

General Manager – Not all businesses need a General Manager; however, I would recommend having one if your business warrants it and/or you can afford to have one.  The ability for you to delegate management tasks to your GM is a huge benefit when you have one.  If you don’t have one, then you won’t be able to delegate as much.

Offense – The offense is a compilation of staff members within your team that can drive the ball toward the goal…  which you hopefully have!  You do have a goal right?  If not, then you really need to get a coach to help you set appropriate goals and measure them.

Quarterback – This is the person that is leading the team toward the goal.  Perhaps it’s you, as the owner, or possibly the GM or a high level manager.  Either way, it’s someone who takes responsibility for making adjustments when necessary and then communicating those adjustments to the team members so that everyone is on the same page.

Running Backs and Receivers – This is your production staff.  These are the folks that get the actual sold work delivered.  If you are service business, this is those folks.  If you make a widget, then these are your front-line production folks and machine operators.  Without these folks, your machines don’t run at optimum speed and your production line could shut down.  Your employees in the service side of your business are just as important, ensuring that the orders that your customers place are getting completed.

Offensive Line – This is your back office team.  In football, the offensive line does the dirty work.  They are often referred to as “being in the trenches”.  In your business, this may be your accounts receivable and accounts payable team members.  You may have warranty folks, office managers, team leads, billing folks, IT Managers and Engineers, etc.  Bottom line, these are very valuable team members that may often get overlooked, as they aren’t necessarily high profile positions, but the reality is that they are just as valuable as the other folks on your team.

Defense – This is your customer service.  It is often said in football that defense wins championships.  Having won 2 championships myself as a coach, I couldn’t agree more.  As you are well aware, customer service is a primary concern for any business, and is often directly related to referrals.  If you deliver great customer service, you will surely get more referrals and you hold off complaints as well.

Special Teams – This is likely your partners and vendors.  While your Special Teams group is not often on the field, in the game, or working every day on your behalf, they are an integral part of your team.  They are an extension of your brand in many cases.  Partners advocate on your behalf, and vendors work with you to ensure that you are successful.  If both partners and vendors do their best representing you, it will be a win-win situation for everyone!

Opponent – This would be your competition, in most cases.  I have always been a believer that there is enough business for everyone.  So while you are prospecting, I wouldn’t consider anyone else an opponent just yet.  You will find opponents popping up, however, once your prospect has contacted both you and another company for a quote on your product or service. That is when the comparisons begin and therefore when your competition begins.