What can success in sports teach us about business planning?

This post is by Giles Ellis, an experienced business coach and Director at GECA Chartered Accountants. If you need help unlocking your business potential, then Giles can help.

Business success and sports success are often down to one thing – good planning.

Beyond their obviously talented players, the All Blacks incredible record of success in part can be attributed to the planning that covers every aspect of their performance.

Business planning for success

One of the assistant coach’s jobs on the recent tour to England was to catch the bus from the hotel to the stadium the week prior to estimate the time it would take for the team to get there on game day.

Planning for the small details like this gives the All Blacks the platform to focus on their roles, winning rugby games.

So what lessons from planning for success in sport can be applied to business planning?

Focus on what you have to do

Tops sports stars have incredible focus on achieving their goals. Every night in bed, Olympian Michael Phelps said he mentally swims the race in his mind, counting every stroke, visualising his turns, planning every second of the race.

Imagine what could be achieved if you bought such a focus to your business planning, mentally focusing on the key goals you need to achieve and planning the steps that need to be done.

Good business leaders do this by focusing on the key strategic goals for the business, and planning how to achieve these using clearly identified, time-bound actions and assigning responsible people for delivery.

Procedures build consistency

Sports success is based on consistent performance. Be it a competition across months, or a game of two halves, winners need consistent performance to ensure success.

In business, a great way to build consistency is to use clearly documented procedures that allow operations to be standardised. Clearly documented procedures for all aspects of your business a great way to reduce business risk – no more relying on knowledge held by a staff member who can be absent at any time.

Another benefit of documenting procedures is the opportunity to review processes to increase efficiency.  Many businesses have processes that have been there since day one without considering if increased business activity could allow a better way to do things.

Documenting procedures facilitates a process review; by setting down each step in any process, it is easy to identify opportunities for business process improvement.

Innovation to keep ahead of the competition

At the height of his success as a golf player, Tiger Woods took time out from playing to completely reinvent his golf swing. He didn’t need to at the time – he had just won four majors in succession but he knew he had to improve to stay ahead of the competition.

In the same way, business owners constantly need to invest in research and development to provide new products and services to their customers. As in sport, this is done by analysing what makes the competition successful and improving on this to create something better.

Clear expectations

In sport, there is a very clear expectation of success. From the athletes competing for medals to sports bodies competing for funding, high performance against benchmarks is the expectation. There can only be one winner.

High performing businesses have the same clear expectations of performance. Staff have clear objectives aligned to business goals and understand what is required of them to achieve these objectives.

Regular performance reviews are undertaken to monitor and improve performance and development programs are put in place to identify and nurture talent.

So there you have it – four good ideas for sporting success that can be equally applied to business planning. If you need a business coach to help you unlock your business potential call us now on 0800 758 766 for a no obligation chat.