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Business Lessons from the Dallas Mavericks

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I know what you are thinking. “You want me to take business lessons from a bunch of millionaires who just won an NBA title when I’m struggling to make my business work.”

Yes. Hear me out.

I’m a firm believer that anytime we see a success story there is something to learn from it, whether that be a successful startup venture that makes it big or a professional sports franchise. The 2011 Dallas Mavericks were no average team; instead, they were champions. You aren’t trying to build just an average business, are you?

The first and most important thing is to start with a plan. The Mavericks started this process when Mark Cuban bought the team back in 2000, and now have 11 consecutive 50-win seasons and playoff appearances to show for it (only the San Antonio Spurs can equal that). But this wasn’t quite the championship formula. The team was constantly making some tweaks and changes, all working toward the final goal of winning a championship.

This is similar to any business putting together a business plan prior to starting the venture. A business plan is usually put together in order to achieve funding, but a good business plan serves a number of purposes. It provides a roadmap to success with a carefully thought out plan for all aspects of the business: marketing, company operations, financial goals, management team, etc.

The constant tweaking of this Mavericks team is typical in business today as well. You are constantly making small adjustments due to the market or to react to what your competition is doing. The Mavericks took advantage of the market by acquiring Tyson Chandler this past offseason. Your business should also work to take advantage of market opportunities that come about, even if it requires small changes to your overall business plan.

Another important aspect is to ensure that you have the right team in place. The Mavericks didn’t necessarily go after the highest paid, best athletes. Instead, they built a team that could win by focusing on the individual player’s strengths and weaknesses. This is similar to any good company’s business concept when hiring; you must assemble a winning team that can work well together and execute the plan as a single unit. Too many companies (and entrepreneurs) today just try to hire the most talent possible. Sometimes this works, but in many cases it simply doesn’t.

It’s important for entrepreneurs with just a few employees to keep this point in mind as well as your hiring decisions are even more important. Be sure to focus on what current employees do well, and how a new hire can improve the overall function of the company and the profitability of the venture. Bringing in a very talented individual that does something that other employees at the company already do well could be counterproductive. Instead, focus on trying to fill holes in your organization.

If you are an entrepreneur with no employees, you have to focus your attention to an honest assessment of yourself. What do you do well, and what should be outsourced to others? Are you allocating your precious time properly? For example, are you spending the proper resources on marketing, operations, and personal salary for your type of business? Entrepreneurs will always wear multiple hats; just ensure that you are wearing the right one at the right times.

Overall, it is important to have a team in place that can work together to accomplish your goals. In business, this should be your sales/profitability goals. In basketball, it just happens to be a championship.

Way to go Mavs!

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