10 Business Lessons to Learn from Baseball (Part 3)

Why Watching Baseball is a Good Opportunity for Learning Valuable Business Lessons

America’s favorite pastime isn’t great just for enjoyment and relaxation purposes; it’s also the source of numerous life and business lessons.  After all, some of our culture’s most popular sayings (“You can’t win  ’em all,” “He really hit a home run that time,” and “He was out before he reached First Base,” for example) which come from the diamond, are also heard in the business world.  Whether you’ve spent years in the dugout, in the stands, or in the boardroom, hopefully these insights and business lessons will provide inspiration.

Rounding third and heading for home, here are the final three business lessons…

Business Lessons #8: Review the Statistics

Business LessonAt each ballgame is a person recording every pitch thrown and play made; a Statistician.  These stats are reviewed and rehashed, posted and celebrated (or moaned) over.  Statistics matter in baseball; not only to the players themselves, but for the color announcers who use the information during game broadcasts. They matter in business, too.  Knowing that a certain affiliate is bringing in the bulk of your sales, or that a particular product’s appeal has dropped off significantly or that one sales page is doing twice the business another is, are all valuable bits of information.  There are a few basics online business owners must track on a regular basis:

  • Site visits/page views/unique visitors.  How many people come to your site?  How many pages do they view? Do they come back?
  • Conversions.  When they visit, do they take the action you desire, whether it’s making a purchase or signing up for your mailing list?
  • Total sales and total expenses.  How much are you bringing in, and how much are you spending?
  • Referring sites.  Who is sending you traffic and why?

But tracking these statistics isn’t enough, just as knowing that your clean-up batter always walks the first time up in a home game.  You have to DO something with that knowledge, and review it again and again over time, looking for patterns and trends.  You need to know as much about your business as those color announcers know about the home team.

Business Lessons #9: Slumps Happen

A lot of athletes have set routines they follow religiously – some call them superstitions.  The problem with superstitions is that they seem to work…until they don’t.  Eventually the slump happens.  You’re on fire the entire season until one day you wake up, do everything you did the day before, and suddenly you can’t get a hit to save your life.  You’re in a slump, and it hangs around until it breaks – or you do. Business people experience their share of seemingly inexplicable slumps, too.  And just as in baseball, you have a choice:  Through or out. Top-notch marketing blogger and best-selling author Seth Godin based his book, “The Dip,” on the very principle.  He says that dips – “slumps,” in baseball speak – will happen; it’s not a question of if, but when.  And when it does happen, you have a choice to make.  Are you going to give up, or are you going to barrel through? If your reasons are strong enough, you will continue to get in that batter’s box, says Godin.  You’ll put out products, talk with customers, and market your wares.  And you’ll also work behind the scenes to improve your chances of getting a hit.  Revisit the following business lessons:

  • Review your statistics (Lesson#8)
  • Work with a coach (Lesson #6)
  • Keep refining your process
  • Keep on swinging (Lesson #3)

Eventually the slump will end and you’ll get that hit. Of course, giving up is always an option.  The choice is yours.  In the meantime, your competitors will be facing the same challenges at one time or another.  The spoils will go to the one who can stick it out.

Business Lessons #10: the Game Reflects Your Preparation

When you watch a Major League Baseball game, it can seem like magic.  The organ is playing, the crowds are madly cheering, the diamond is groomed just so, and the players are all in the zone.  What you don’t see is all the preparation that goes on behind the scenes.  What you see is the best of the best – after all the hard work has gone in.  The three hours of game time are really a drop in the bucket compared to what preceded it. Business is the same.  When you see someone’s “perfect” website, or watch their seamless launch, you aren’t witnessing the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it.  You see the beautiful product displays, not the piles of spreadsheets, and hours upon hours of hard labor. Transfer this to your own endeavor: Any professional athlete will tell you that you’re only as good as your preparation.  If you don’t practice hard, you can’t play hard. And if you don’t play hard, you can’t win. How much effort you are willing to dedicate to the background work of your business will determine how far you will go.  Everyone from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to David Ortiz to Miguel Cabrera knows that it’s the hours that you put in off the field that determine how far you go on the field. Real motivation must come from within.  Remember that character is how you act when no one is looking – and character is what makes a real winner.

Business Lessons – Part 3 Conclusion

Baseball holds a lot of wisdom that’s applicable to life in general, and to business in particular.  From setting an example of how to handle adversity, to teaching us how important it is to take risks, baseball is full of wisdom. I hope you will look at our nation’s favorite pastime with a different perspective, searching for more ways we can apply the lessons of the players to our everyday business and entrepreneurial challenges; taking these business lessons to heart. I truly believe that when you’re ready to learn, the teacher will appear – perhaps in the form of a uniform-clad third baseman.

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To your success – and to a winning season!

If you found these business lessons helpful, leave a comment below.

If you missed the first 7 lessons and would like to read them, click here for business lessons #1 – 3and here for business lessons #4 – 7.
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