My son is going to start playing t-ball this spring. It’s for 4 and 5 year olds – so they don’t keep score. They don’t track hits, errors, runs, etc. Which makes perfect sense since the point of t-ball is to learn the basics: where to stand, what it’s like when the ball is in play, what base to run to, etc. Keeping score, playing to win – these just get in the way of the purpose of t-ball.
Meanwhile, my favorite baseball team (sorry Tigers – you’re my five year old’s favorite team) the Chicago White Sox are 10-16, and only one game out of last place in their division – a division where they were expected to compete for first. The problem is their hitting. How do I know this? Well thanks to the Sun-Times and their kick-ass stats team, I know that the Sox haven’t “scored in the first three innings in 12 of the last 13 games and has scratched out all of 41 runs in the last 17 games.” Why does this matter? Because it’s the White Sox job to play AND WIN games. The owners of the team have invested substantial money in the manager, coaches and players with the purpose of winning.
So what exactly does this have to do with business? Well ask yourself – is the purpose of your business to win it all (i.e. achieve success) or is the purpose of your business to improve your skills (i.e. learn something)? Your investors and I hope you know the answer – it’s to win – to achieve success. So if you’re planning on winning – you better keep score – and not just wins and losses – but all the little stats that create wins and losses. The wins and losses follow from things like how many runs a particular pitcher gives up – and the batting average of the hitters. The success (wins, or money) follows from good work (hits, strike outs, or a fiercly effective email campaign).
Seems simple right? Except it isn’t. I’ve given advice to dozens of startups and very few of them know how many visitors their websites are getting. Few of them know how their average customer would rate them on a scale of one to ten. Ask yourself – how many emails did you send out? How many people opened them? How many visited your website? Etc. Etc. Etc. If you’re not paying attention to these fundamentals, you can’t improve your number of wins. You become a victim to your actions – not the master of your actions. This can be damned ugly. If you’re in the majors – pay attention to the score and learn how to make informed decisions to improve the score.
Are you playing in the major leagues or playing t-ball?
Here’s a quick way to tell the difference – have you been given money for your effort? Are you getting paid? I pay for my son to play t-ball – if he learns to hit – awesome. If he doesn’t at least he’ll have fun. Paul Konerko from the Sox? He gets $12,000,000 a year. He better get some hits. You should too.