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Cleveland Cavs Killer Lebron James Gives Small Business & Startups A Few Lessons

May 14th, 2010 | Small Business,Small Business Tips | 4 Comments »

As many in the sports world today are talking about, last night’s Boston Celtics victory over the Cleveland Cavs to eliminate the #1 seeded Cavs from the playoffs was a real shocker.  It was made worse by the fact that it accelerated the summer of Lebron James’ free agency.  For the city of Cleveland and Cavs fans (like me), this was as close to a sporting apocalypse as they have seen since Cleveland’s past sporting meltdowns that are so famous, they have one word names attached to them: the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot and  the Wedge.  So from this debacle…actually they are calling it LeBacle in some circles, there has to be a few lessons learned for us small businesses and startups.  Here are a few quick ones that come to mind:

1. One Star Teams Often Fail- the ongoing critique of the Cavs is that they only have one star on their team, Lebron James.  In the NBA its generally known, that you need to have a team made up of at least two stars and several excellent roll players to win in the playoffs. The Cavs have failed for years to get multiple stars on the team to play next to Lebron.  They have tried, but each time the players have massively underperformed like Mo Williams the last two years. So lesson learned for us businesses is to make sure your team has multiple stars and if you have roll players that may be your contractors/vendors, ensure you have folks that can deliver in the clutch.

2. One Person Should Not Hold A Team Hostage – the Cavs have let Lebron James hold the team, the city and frankly Cleveland sports to some extent hostage.  Everything he wants, he gets.  New players, new coaches, new lineups, even new travel plans like when the team is playing in Miami because Lebron wants to stay out and party instead of returning home, guess what the coach orders – the team to stay an extra night in Miami (well who would blame him for that one – I would take an extra day in Miami too!).  That need to make one person hapy has lead the Cavs to make continual changes to their team to find just the right fit of players to Lebron’s liking.  This has had the effect of destroying any team chemistry. That was so evident in the series against the Celtics.  Cavs players that had succeed for the entire regular season (7 months!) found themselves on the bench. Suddenly the team that dominated the regular season, looked absolutely lost.  Startups and small business can learn from this and aim to have a consistent team, where folks play key roles, keep each other accountable and management makes every effort to not take people in and out of the lineup to match one “star’s” whims.

3. Play Your Heart Out & Show it - the now famous Game 5 where it looked like Lebron James wanted to be anywhere but in a sold out arena of Cavs fans (who absolutely adore and support him to no end) in one of the biggest games of his playoff career.  He played scared, he looked timid and in such a big game the star played so small that the whole world saw it.  This should be an easy lesson for us small businesses and startups.  Go 100% and go with passion and enthusiasm.  Even when you may get down, get back up and fight.  In the biggest “games” for your business, step up and seize control of the game.  Dont wait like Lebron did in Game 5 and let the “game” come to you.  Success will come to those that seek it out.

4. Do Not Ignore Your Fans - No one looks at it this way, but they really should.  The Cavs fans are Lebron’s customers.  If no one showed up to see him play, would he get those multi-million dollar contracts?  No! The Cavs fans have enthusiastically supported the Cavs and Lebron since he first put on that jersey.   There is simply no fan base in the US that will support Lebron the way he has been supported for years – even without the championships.  These fans are Lebron’s customers.  Can he get other fans/customers in multiple other cities?  Yes, or course he can but will they be as rabid, as passionate and will they literally make him the face of the entire city like they would in Cleveland if Lebron delivers that long lost championship that has eluded the city for over 40 years? Never.  So lesson learned for small business and startups, when you succeed and you start growing, do not be so easy to turn away from your bread and butter – the customers that got you to your success. That means be very careful because the grass is not always greener on the other side and be very careful in not serving and supporting your core customers.

5. Life/Business Goes On After A Loss – Ok, this lesson should actually be taken from the Cavs fans and less from Lebron.  Its maybe also a little self-healing from me.  After the loss and likely departure for Lebron from Cleveland, life goes on.  DO NOT LAUGH, but I will move on to the other team that I swore off a few years ago for their ineptitude, the Cleveland Browns.  As we likely close the chapter on Lebron in Cleveland and the chance of winning that elusive major sports championship that Cleveland fans so want, we just adjust and say well now our hopes are that Mike Holmgren can take the Browns to the promise land and end the 40 year drought.  So for your business, always be flexible and if someone/something or a major project is let down, bounce up and move on because that success will come.  It will come one day and it will feel so good…..just like I know I will feel when the Browns finally win the Super Bowl! (as my wife, the Steelers fan and Pittsburgh native, mocks me from across the room).

Tell us what you learned from Lebron’s and the Cavs collapse.

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4 Responses

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    Cleveland Cavs Killer Lebron James Gives Small Business & Startups A Few Lessons…

    Lessons learned for small business and startups from Cleveland’s Lebron James and his impending decision on free agency and the impact on a team and a city….

  2. [...] the losing front, the Lebron James collapse (for the second time, see here) is probably the most shocking and talked about story of the entire NBA Finals. We have all been [...]

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