Over the past month the NFL free agency season commenced and the dismantling began, throwing us surprises from day one.
We watched the Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens disburse all over NFL cities. Ray Lewis, one of the greatest and most controversial players in NFL history, retired and his right hand man Ed Reed is off to the Houston Texans to write his own final chapter.
Like all good sports metaphors, that which entertains us each Sunday provides us with plenty of good business thoughts. That is exactly what NFL free agency did for me.
Here are five business lessons your business can learn from this year’s NFL free agency period:
- Weighing the Past: Brian Urlacher may have been one of the greatest middle linebackers to ever play in the NFL, let alone the Chicago Bears. But guess what—what he did yesteryear didn’t matter when it came to the team deciding what to do next. Same goes for your business. The work you have done in the past only gives you a little bit of consideration when it comes to the next thing. Make sure you bring your “A” game every time, and keep your business young by staying with the trends.
- Keep the Ego in Check: Whether your organization is atop of the heap according to various sources or you just think you are, you are only as good as your next play. James Harrison thought he was going to get big money on the free agent market. Well, not so much. Now he will probably end up playing for a fraction of what he had hoped. It isn’t that he’s not a good player—he is. And guess what, your company probably is too. However, when you get too full of yourself you are opening the door a crack or sometimes wide open for a more humble competitor to come and take your place.
- Stand Pat: The New England Patriots stood pat, well kind of. They let star receiver Wes Welker leave for the Denver Broncos but replaced him in his own image with Danny Amendola from the St. Louis Rams. What the Patriots knew was their overall formula was working so they didn’t want to rock the boat. Sometimes in our businesses we have to coast when the waters are calm. That doesn’t mean taking our eyes off of the future, but it means sticking with what is working today. So long as the Patriots have Tom Brady, they have proven they can turn just about any receiver into a star. Let the Pats stand pat for a few years and see if they can return to Title Town. (I suspect that may just happen.)
- Be Opportunistic: They say if you want to achieve greatness, sometimes risk is necessary. When the Seattle Seahawks traded their first round pick for injury-prone Percy Harvin, they were taking quite a risk. Harvin is undoubtedly a stud receiver, return man and overall utility player, but the problem is he can’t stay healthy. Seattle nearly made a Super Bowl run last season with an unknown rookie quarterback and a bunch of no-name players, so the addition of a talent like Harvin could be the key to a championship run next year. This is the same for your business. Sometimes a risk is necessary, whether that is expanding your geography, expanding your team or taking on a new technology. All risks don’t pay off, but if you are opportunistic like the Seahawks you may be able to leap ahead of the competition. You just have to know the difference between stupid risks and upside risks. Happy roulette!
- Who’s Your Competition: Do you ever see a top flight veteran get traded for two sixth round picks? This year Super Bowl stud Anquan Boldin was sent off to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth round pick. You would probably ask yourself, why in the world would a team gamble on a sixth round pick when they have a proven commodity. Well, this goes back to number one, but also introduces a new factor. Your competition is often unidentified, like the guys that are going to be drafted in the sixth round. This represents the residential companies, the security companies, the IT VARs, and the assortment of other vendors willing to play for an opportunity. So never forget that your competition isn’t only the obvious, but sometimes they come out of nowhere and take your starting spot.
This story originally posted on Commercial Integrator and can be found here.
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