Road to the Holy Grail: business lessons from the AFL

23rd March, 2017

What can your business learn from the hangers, clangers, bumps and bruises of the AFL season?

There’s a lot you can learn from the ups and downs of an AFL season, from the rollercoaster of emotions both your footy team and your business can put you through.

As a one-eyed Doggies fan, I’m eagerly anticipating the 2017 season.

My infatuation with this game began when I was 9. I adopted the Western Bulldogs as my team and for better or worse – I was hooked.

We all have our passions. Your business is one of yours and it just so happens that football is one of mine.

There’ll be highs and lows but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Relish the wins

AFL is a beautiful, yet unpredictable game. Anything can happen. There’s high marks and freakish goals.

Some days, everything will go right. All the 50-50 decisions will all go your way. A kick, destined to be behind will unexpectedly bounce in for a goal.

Enjoy these times.

Just like in business, you’ll have a month of great great cash flow or you get a tax break you didn’t account for.

It’s important to celebrate these wins. They’re part of the journey. After all, that’s why you’re in business in the first place.

Embrace the grind

Business owners are a special breed with steely resolve. You put in long hours running your business to best the best possible result.

Some parts of the year are busier and more stressful than others. EOFY is one of those.

EOFY, is just like the middle patch of the season. Things start to get a bit tougher as teams approach the bye.

If they can just see this tough patch out and continue to grind out wins, finals may become a reality.

During these times, it’s important to have faith in your routines and structures. Stick to what makes your business successful and don’t waiver.

Embrace the daily grind, you will see the rewards later.

Players come and go, but club colours remain forever

No one is irreplaceable.

At the end of the 2014 season, Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen walked out – requesting a trade to the Giants. The coach and CEO resigned and other high profile players left.

It was utter chaos. They couldn’t possibly bounce back from this – could they?

In came a new coach in Luke Beveridge and a bunch of talented young pups and they never looked back.

Just two years later the Sons of the West broke a 62-year drought to win the AFL premiership.

What does this prove? No matter how key you think certain personnel are – they can always be replaced.

New staff can come in and can have an immediate positive impact on your business. At the time it may look bleak, but it could result in a brighter future.

The ball won’t always bounce your way

Football fans know this to be true. Just when you think your team is going well, something can and will go wrong.

Key players will get injured. A club scandal which was meant to be kept ‘in-house’ will be leaked to the media.

For you, it could be staff turnover, or simply staff not turning up. Maybe it’s a supplier issue which delays your stock.

Whatever gets in your way, make sure you keep your eye on the prize.

Don’t let these hurdles distract you from your ultimate business goal. The best teams, don’t.

“You’ve got to inspire me”

What’s your vision for your business? What spurred you on to take the plunge and start your own business? It’s different for everyone.

Whatever it is, it’s important to communicate that to your staff and take them on the journey.

Last season, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge dared to dream about the ultimate prize. He communicated this dream to his players and gave them the belief to reach for it.

It wasn’t easy.

There was a tough road trip to Perth in the first week of the finals. After that – A clash with the reigning champs, Hawthorn.

There was a struggle with the Giants, a team full of talent and then an ultimate showdown with powerhouse, Sydney Swans.

The Bulldogs believed and conquered all. So, what’s the lesson here?

If you’ve got a vision or a goal for your business, communicate it to your team. No matter how unattainable it may seem, with a bit of hard work – it can happen.

It did for the Bulldogs.