I am happy to report that my favorite NFL team, the Denver Broncos, are 3-0 after week #3. The only obstacles stopping the Broncos are their own penalties and turnovers, and the defense continues to get better – even without two all-pro players (Champ Bailey and Von Miller). In contrast to the Broncos, several favored NFL teams lost to underdogs in week #3. Let’s examine 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Win Like NFL Underdogs.

1. They innovate constantly

Remember when the Miami Dolphins took the NFL by storm with their “Wildcat offense”? Peyton Manning was overwhelming NFL defenses with the “no-huddle” way before it became popular. And the Chicago Bears defense unleashed an attacking 46 defense on their way to winning a Super Bowl in 1985.

Entrepreneur Lesson: Your competitors, that already have market share, want to maintain the status quo. If you want to steal some of that market and mindshare, you better be prepared to innovate! You can innovate products, come up with innovative approaches to solution delivery, or simply bring a refreshing “extreme customer focus” attitude to make your customers’ experience pleasant and memorable.

2. They take advantage of opponents overlooking them

Blockbuster was focusing on Hollywood Video when Netflix zoomed by both of them to capture huge market share. Circuit City and Best Buy, and Borders and Barnes & Noble, were going toe-to-toe as Amazon worked to become the most intelligent, inexpensive, and pervasive shopping option for consumer electronics, books, and just about everything else under the sun!

Entrepreneur Lesson: Your opponents are focusing on their regular competitors in your industry. This actually reminds me of a new show on the Food Network called “Cutthroat Kitchen”. A pair of competitors will become so focused on taking down who they see as their strongest opposition. Meanwhile, the other opponent quietly goes about their business of delivering the best dish. The longer that entrepreneurs can operate “under the radar” of their larger competitors, the better. Let those big competitors be blindsided when your smaller brand starts chalking up wins over their big brands.

3. They win with hustle

When a favorite “knows” they are going to win, they may decide to let that passed ball go by if they know catching it will leave them exposed for a defender to hit them with a bone-crushing tackle. Perhaps their pass rushers take plays off…because they know they are SOOO much better than their underdog opponent. They simply think “I’ll dominate on the NEXT play”. And no use trying to recover that fumble and get on the bottom of a dog pile on this cold, muddy field – their superior defense will keep their opponents from scoring.

Entrepreneur Lesson: Entrepreneurs may not have limitless budget and a wealth of resources – but they have determination to succeed because to fail means not paying the bills! Entrepreneurs win with hustle. They wear several hats for their organization, and they are willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to put their company on the map! If their opponents “drop the ball” by not satisfying clients, entrepreneurs are willing to dive on the opportunities to score.

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4. They give fans a reason to root for the underdog

People grow tired of consistent success (especially if the ones succeeding are doing the most bragging). The Cowboys had long strings of successes, even embracing the “America’s Team” label, and NFL fans grew to loathe them. The 49ers and the Patriots had similar runs of success that led to them taking on a “villain’s role” in the NFL. On any given Sunday, fans are watching TV simply to root for the underdogs against these perennially successful teams.

Entrepreneur Lesson: Who equates to the self-proclaimed America’s Team in your industry? Some clients will always focus on doing business with that America’s Team, but other clients love rooting for the underdog. They know there is a certain amount of cockiness and complacency that comes with these market leaders. They want solution providers who are going to show some hustle and continuously EARN their business. They appreciate it when you aren’t just there to collect a paycheck. Entrepreneurs are going to fight and claw, to deliver the best possible solutions, until the last whistle is blown. Fans want to root for the underdog, so entrepreneurs give clients every reason to root for them!

How is your NFL team doing this season? Do you follow a perennial powerhouse, or do you follow the perennial underdog? Are YOU working for an America’s Team service provider – or are YOU the entrepreneur…the underdog?

Photo Credit: David Vs Goliath by thefost, on Flickr