Tennis fever is sweeping the nation, with this year’s Australian Open in full swing. Players from around the world are vying for the top spot, as eager spectators look on to see who will walk away as Grand Slam champions. The training, preparation and resilience needed to play on the world stage is not dissimilar from the ‘game’ of business, writes Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ at Oracle NetSuite.
Both require coaching, or mentorship, to enable continual growth and development. Both involve outsmarting their opponent by understanding their tactics and how to best respond. Most importantly however, both require resilience – the strength to weather the challenges and come out on top. With this tennis analogy in mind, here are three ways business can be likened to tennis and the lessons business leaders can draw upon to build stamina in 2020.
Game – Get the right mentor, build your game strategy
The saying goes that ‘behind every great player is a great coach’. Tennis players rely on their coach to guide their development by identifying areas of improvement and serving as a sounding board for new ideas and ways to approach the game. The coach also sets long-term goals for the player while supporting their preparation.
The same applies to business. Mentors support your development as a leader beyond the day-to-day running of the business. A mentor or coach recognises your strengths, weaknesses, motivators and stressors and uses this knowledge to provide personalised guidance. Whether you are looking to bolster your skillset, implement new technology in your business or need a second pair of eyes to review your business strategy, your mentor is there to support your growth.
Set – Know the competition, but don’t let it throw your game
Sun Tzu penned the wise words, “if you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat, but if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” In the tennis world, players and coaches will dedicate time before a match to understand their opponent’s tactics. For example, do they move towards the net after serving, or do they prefer to dominate the baseline? This will have a big impact on the way a player approaches the game and the tactics they employ to counter the competition.
Likewise in business, it is essential to know who you’re up against. For example, what is your competitors’ business model? Are they changing focus by moving to online trading, expanding or consolidating product lines, adding services or complementary product lines? Perhaps they are actively targeting new customers, including attempting to entice your customers with new and improved offerings? Whatever the case, knowledge is most certainly power. Some competitor initiatives may require no response – simply sticking to your current business plan may be the best course of action. Other tactics may require a more proactive approach to ensure your business offering maintains, and grows its appeal. Remember, the goal is to understand the competition so that you can make fully informed decisions, not so that you can mimic their every move (ending in a stalemate).
Match – resilience, lose the set, win the match
There comes a point in most tennis matches where things aren’t going to plan. It could be that the player experiences an unexpected injury or even loses motivation. Perhaps it’s something out of the players’ control, like a bad umpire call. This is the time when the player must dig deep, recall the guidance provided by their coach, trust their abilities and find a way to overcome this hurdle.
The same is true in the business world. Many businesses experience financial ups and downs. Market conditions, shifting consumer demands, missed opportunities – any number of factors can lead to a downturn. This is when business leaders may need to lean on their mentors for guidance and view the approach to their business differently. Ask yourself… Is there a better way of doing something? Are there ways that I can streamline my business? Maybe there are processes that could be optimised or maybe it’s time to change direction.
Employing cloud-based ERP could be a powerful ally. Using ERP, businesses can integrate process functions and consolidate data from across the organisation to gain a holistic view of the company. From this point of insight, business leaders can make fully-informed, data-driven decisions that can guide the company through tough times to a position of strength.
The analogy of sport is often used in the business world. In fact, many businesses choose a sporting activity in team-building initiatives to simulate the ups and downs of the business world. Choosing the right mentor could be crucial to your long term success. They can provide guidance and can help you plan beyond the day-to-day operation. Understanding your competition is essential, but may not be the driver behind every decision. Having a resilient mindset will help businesses survive and thrive through difficult times, while a proven cloud-based technology infrastructure may enable leaders to gain the knowledge, insights and clarity of mind needed to make strategic decisions that can ultimately guarantee long term survival.