To be successful in sports needs vision, dedication, and a lot of hard work. It is true that some people have more of a natural advantage in some way than others, but it is not that that will set them apart and help them to gain an advantage over the competition. It is the long hours of training and improving the basic skills. It is the determination to go on when times are tough. It is the drive to pick yourself up and carry on each time you get knocked down. And it is the ability to learn from your mistakes and from what others with more experience are telling you.
Each and every member of the Lionesses football team will have shown these qualities in order to get to the level that they have achieved. As will every other top athlete. These qualities are exactly the same as those needed to be a successful entrepreneur and to be able to scale your early-stage business.
Another necessary quality that both must have, is the ability to adapt and evolve as circumstances dictate. We have seen this recently with the Lionesses as they have played different teams with different styles and strengths, and as the whole team has adapted to cover if a team-mate is injured or not able to play. Entrepreneurs and businesses need to adapt and pivot as products, markets, and competition evolves around them.
But the biggest thing that entrepreneurs can learn from the Lionesses, and every other top person in sport, is that it is not possible to perform at that level without having built a good team around you. Just as in sports every good athlete needs a supporting team of coaches, trainers, physios, and all the others that play a role, then so do entrepreneurs.
In the early-stage business world, the entrepreneur needs to decide whether to be a sole founder or to work with a co-founder, and then start to make some initial hires. But the supporting team is every bit as important, and often more so, than those actually working day to day in the business. Some of the supporting team such as accountants or lawyers are more specific and project focused, but perhaps the most important are the longer-term advisors such as the Advisory Board.
Just as there is no doubt that Sarina Wiegman, the Lionesses coach, has brought out the best in the team and given them the best opportunities of success, there is also no doubt that an early-stage business working with a good mentor and Advisory Board members acting as coaches to the founders can have the same effect.
A good Advisory Board member will draw on their own experience and knowledge, as well as being able to look from the outside in, and so be better able to see the picture as a whole. These can be invaluable benefits. In business, the fact that they also bring their own contacts only enhances the benefits further.
What every member of the Lionesses has learned during their individual careers, and even more so whilst playing for England in the UEFA European Championships and the World Cup, is that they are a team. This is not just the team of 11 players on the pitch but the much wider team that they have around them. Without this wider team neither the Lionesses as a whole, nor the individuals that make them up, would have any chance of success.
What founders of early-stage businesses can learn from the Lionesses is that to be a top lion or lioness in sport or in business you need to find the best team of advisors and coaches and allow them to help you roar.
25th August 2023
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