At first glance, the question of what makes a team great is simple: the players, the superstars. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find out there’s much more that goes into taking a team to the playoffs. Success is often not due to the efforts of a few superstars, but the coach that makes a team shine.
It’s hard to argue with the success of the New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Guiding his team to 4 Super Bowl wins and numerous playoff appearances since taking over as coach in 2000, the Patriots have flourished under Belichick’s leadership. Leadership and management might seem restricted to the office, but there’s a lot new business owners can learn from Belichick’s coaching style. Here are 7 lessons entrepreneurs can take away from Bill Belichick’s success as head coach.
- Address and correct weaknesses
Nothing is perfect, and Belichick knows it—but he’s always working on improving those imperfections. As a coach, it’s his job to find the weaknesses on his team and correct them. By choosing solid, all-around players, he boasts an overall better roster than a team with half superstars and half less competent players.
As a business owner, it’s important to be able to identify your company’s weaknesses, and constantly work to improve upon them. Without regular reevaluation and correction, those weaknesses can become ingrained in company culture and hinder your business as it grows.
- Keep your competition guessing
Belichick may have one of the greatest quarterbacks ever on his team, but that doesn’t mean he’s always showing off Brady’s full capabilities. Instead, he’ll use a mix of tactics, from simple passes to more elaborate plays, in order to keep the team’s opponents guessing.
The same tactics can be used in business to great effect. You can’t just expect to use the same strategy all the time—your competition will find your weaknesses and exploit them. If they don’t know what you’re going to do next? They won’t have a chance to find the next weakness.
- Exemplify your organizational priorities
Belichick is doesn’t care what others think, he cares about results, and he’s willing to make unconventional choices to support the Patriots organizational priorities. For example, he’s been known to go without “essential” members of coaching staff because he wanted to keep more control of his coaching, and only hire people he trusted to exemplify his values.
When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, steps like goal mapping and values are essential for hiring, making business decision, and growing your business. Then, make sure those priorities are echoed throughout your business.
- Build a culture
A team isn’t just a team, just as a business isn’t just a business. Belichick knows that just as people have different personalities and cultural values, so do teams. The Patriots are known as a confident, brash team with a roster of accomplishments.
Building a solid culture with your business is just as important. Find the people who fit into that culture, and you’re well on your way to business success.
- Don’t waste your momentum
Belichick thinks ahead to when his team will need momentum the most, such as in the middle of a game when energy is low. That’s why he often gives the ball to the other team first, even if he wins the toss.
It pays to save your momentum. Don’t let your business fizzle out—save some money and energy for when times get tough.
- Remain flexible
Teams have time-outs for a reason—they have to strategize in the moment and make changes depending on how the game is going. Having a well-rounded team allows Belichick the flexibility he needs, no matter which team the Patriots are facing. That’s how the team is consistently successful against teams with varying play styles.
Businesses have to operate in the same way. Entrepreneurs need to be flexible, and willing to make changes if they serve the company—rather than carrying on with one trick that just isn’t working.
Without experimentation, there is no innovation, and Belichick has become one of the leading coaches in the NFL by never allowing his team to stagnate. Becoming a franchise that leads year after year is a long game, and it doesn’t come from doing what everyone else is. So what does Belichick do? He experiments. He knows that not all plays (or players) will work out, but when they do, they payoff is big. One of Belichick’s early experiments was signing on Tom Brady (199th pick in the 2000 draft)—which turned out to be a very good experiment.
In business, experimentation is key to continual growth. To attract investors and build a solid business model that works, entrepreneurs can’t be afraid of experiments to find out what works—and what doesn’t.