- Startup Advice From the Boxing Ring
The love affair started about fifteen years ago. I was flipping through the channels on late night television and stumbled across one of Felix Trinidad’s early fights. He was an amazing athlete full of unwavering determination, brute physicality, and an innate ability for overcoming obstacles.
It was no secret that he would often get knocked down within the first couple rounds of a fight. However, instead of letting it rattle him, he would only come back stronger and inevitably score a dramatic knock out victory over his opponent. You couldn’t help but cheer for him and he became an instant fan favorite. As I continued to watch his fights and boxing in general, I learned quite a few things that helped me in my journey through entrepreneurship.
Lesson #1: It’s Always the Punch You DON’T See That Knocks You Down
Although it may seem that boxers just get out there and brawl, the sport is actually based on tremendous science, research, and strategy. Trainers spend countless hours studying opponents so they can prepare their boxers to overcome any scenario that might come up in the ring. It’s always easier to respond to adversity when you’re not at the receiving end of a left hook. Instead of scrambling to react while half-dazed, you can just take a deep breath and execute plan B. This tactic works equally well for entrepreneurs battling bouts of adversity such as slowed sales, production disasters, or employee turmoil. In the infamous words of Mike Tyson, “everyone has a great plan until they get punched in the face.”
Lesson #2: “If it Doesn’t Make Dollars, it Doesn’t Make Sense.”
This quote is compliments of the notoriously flamboyant Floyd “Money” Mayweather. He’s one of the best pound for pound boxers in the sport and also one of the highest paid. His philosophy is simple, if there’s not enough money on the table for him to get in the ring-he walks. Entrepreneurs would be wise to adopt this mantra when writing their business plans, evaluating partnerships, and developing new products. If there’s not enough profit on the table to invest in a business, new product line, or partnership -keep walking. While his philosophy may seem overly simplistic, I do think its sound. Business success depends on your ability to bring in cash. Whether you use that money to fund your own bank account or a local charity, you still need the cash. Cash is King.
Lesson #3: Sometimes it’s More Important to Win Fans Than to Win Rounds
Clients and customers aren’t always logical. Just because your product is the best, fastest, cheapest out there, doesn’t mean they will love you. A great boxing example of this is “Winky” Wright. He is a veteran fighter with amazing technical boxing ability. He is also amazingly boring to watch. No matter how many titles he wins, no body wants to see him fight. The exact opposite of him is Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. He is a charismatic, big-hearted fighter that often hits the canvas in a bloody blaze of glory. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is fans are on their feet in awe of his courage. He’s the real-life “Rocky’ and fans are transfixed and endeared to him. While he’s not the better boxer, he is the one who sells stadium seats and gets the big paydays.
These exact principles play out in the business world daily. A company with an inferior product, but a great branding strategy can steal the market spotlight and amass oodles of raving fans. Their customers and clients are so endeared to them that they are willing to overlook the higher cost, increased downtime, or technical glitches. Instead of turning on the company when there’s a failure, the customers reach out to help lift them back up. This is any company’s dream, loyal, raving fans that are ultimately your best sales team. Take a lesson from “Thunder” Gatti, don’t just count how many rounds you win, count how many fans you have joining you on the journey.
So there you go, business and boxing are related on more levels than just tax evasion and Don King. We can learn valuable lessons regarding business strategy, profitable decision making, and how to recruit raving fans. These are core principles that can help take your company to the next level.
Next time you’re flipping through the channels and come across a fight, stop and watch a couple of rounds. You just might gain some inspiration for your next great business idea.