4 Business Lessons You Can Learn from March Madness

March 19, 2015

March Madness and running a small business may seem like they have nothing in common. How can a 23-day college basketball tournament help you manage your business? The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is a lot of fun, but it’s also big business and there are some principles you can apply to your work. Here are four take-aways from the spectacle that is March Madness that you can use to improve your business.

1) Leveraging new technology is always a good idea

Technology never stops moving, which makes some entrepreneurs stop following the changes and just stick with the tried-and-true. But in doing so they miss opportunities to increase efficiency and reach customers with ease. An organization as large as the NCAA, with a multi-billion dollar TV contract, isn’t being pressured to do anything different. But, by making sure games can also be viewed online, they’re making fans happy, increasing fan engagement and achieving higher viewership. Adopting new technology can be disruptive and intimidating at first, not to mention the cost. But, that beats sitting still while your competition moves forward.

2) Embracing competition brings out the best

NCAA basketball players have to put forth their best efforts to advance to the latter stage of the tournament. Each round of the tournament brings higher stakes, and tougher competition.  The same holds true for small business owners. You might think life would be easier without competition, but then what would motivate you to put in 110% each and every day? Competition can help bring out the best in you and your business and push you to higher performance.

3) Being behind can be alright

No one wants to be in second place. But being second-best can have an incredibly powerful motivating effect. Jonah Berger and Devin Pope analyzed 18,000 NBA games and found that teams that were losing by a point at halftime were more likely to win the game than teams who were ahead by one point at halftime. Being behind can be motivating and with determination and hard work it will only be a temporary state.

4) Be Courageous

March Madness is at its most intriguing when it has a Cinderella story, when some relatively unknown team, against all odds, manages to achieve success and take down a powerhouse. These stand-out stories usually happen when a team comes into the tournament with a solid game plan and has the courage to stick to it. Small business entrepreneurs have an opportunity to live these stories  every day. If you've done your homework, have a solid plan and are ready to play…Have a little courage and reap the results. There are likely dozens of business lessons hidden in the 60-plus games that make up each March Madness. We hope these four will help you view the mega-tournament as more than something that’s zapping your staff’s (and your!) productivity, and give you some ideas for bringing the winner’s mentality to your small business.