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Get a clue, win the game


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If baseball and business have anything in common, it’s numbers. Well, numbers and abbreviations.

Wow, Ortiz has 1.022 OPS? Yep, and he’s hitting .379 with RISP and two out.

That may be Greek to you, but translated from baseball it means, “Be sure he’s in the lineup.”

Here are some business numbers too: Across all industries, 25 percent of startups will fail in the first year. By the fourth year, it’s 50 percent.

And the leading cause of failure?  Incompetence.  About 46 percent of firms go pear-shaped because leadership hasn’t a clue what they’re doing.

More specifically, they suffer from at least one of these:

  • Emotional pricing,
  • Living too high for the business,
  • Failure to pay taxes, and
  • Lack of planning.

You’ll find more business numbers here, at StatisticBrain.

Oddly though, the failure rate for MLB hitters is a lot worse. Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941—the best season ever for a modern hitter.

He failed 60 percent of the time.

Teddy Ballgame has a famous quote which reads: Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.

You know what else baseball has?

Coaches. Lots and lots of coaches. From your first day until you retire, there’s a guy watching every move you make and offering advice on how to improve.

Ted Williams had a baseball camp in Lakeville, Mass., from 1958 until 1982. I went for two weeks each in 1979 and ‘80. It was a summer camp where ex big-leaguers taught kids how to play the game.

I got to meet Ted Williams before they froze him and started fighting over his head.

Business also has a kind of a camp where professional business-folk give tips, a place where coaches will watch what you’re doing and offer advice.

Here are a couple of the best:

Did I mention this camp doesn’t cost you anything? Sponsors pick up the tab.

Now go back to the StatisticBrain page for a minute. See that list of mistakes that management make?

Don’t make them! Use the resources we just linked you to.

It’ll be just like having Wade Boggs (.328 lifetime) coach you to smack the curve.  Or like having Mark Fidrych teach you to be a lunatic.

I saw Fidrych pitch for the AAA PawSox against Dave Righetti in 1982. Steinbrenner sent Rags down to Columbus for a couple of weeks, and they came to Pawtucket for a series. It turned out to be The Bird’s last game.

And I saw a SCORE counselor in 1992. That was at the beginning of my career as a business owner.

You should give yourself every chance for success.

Get someone else to check your numbers, your plan, and your release point before you lope frantically around the mound mumbling to yourself, talking to the ball. That’s another Fidrych reference. In a sport with strange people, he was the strangest.

And remember what else Ted Williams said: If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.

That’s funny.

Enjoy the summer, and take the kids to a ballgame.

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David Sneed

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss; The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company. As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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