The classic mantra of “rugby is a thug’s game, played by gentlemen” is in the minds of many at the moment with the Rugby World Cup in full swing. Gentlemen may well play the sport, but rugby is an uncompromising game - as England’s premature exit demonstrated - a crushing result that echoes with the world of small business.
Smaller companies and start-ups will also need to be ready to take a few hits on their way to converting their financial tries into success. Here are a few top tips taken from the world of rugby to give your business the best possible chance.
Set out your rules
Preparation is the key to success. A fine example of this is the referee Nigel Owens – a character well known within the world of rugby as one of the finest referees of his generation. To ensure that the games he is in charge of run well, Owens has pre-match meetings with both sides’ coaches and his assistants, explaining to them how he will run the game, and what to expect when infractions occur. This leaves no room for excuses and allows the game to flow.
This is a practise that is useful in business too. If staff are unclear on the rules then processes can become confused and time-consuming. Putting clear policies in place – from social media to expenses – is crucial to running smoothly.
It is not surprising that the highest ranked teams at the World Cup are often the best at passing the ball, with these rapid offloads paving the way for their high scores. New Zealand personify this, having completed more successful offloads than any other team in the tournament. Players like Sonny Bill Williams are renowned for their inventive passing game, keeping the ball moving across the All Blacks offensive line on the way to victory.
Business owners would do well to emulate this approach when it comes to process; finding the path of least resistance and hold up, meaning that information is dealt with swiftly. Avoiding the tackle or being caught in a scrum means that time can be dedicated to more important jobs within your organisation.
Put the right support in place
The aforementioned All Blacks travel with over 20 support staff – each of which are experts in their particular fields. They advise and manage the playing squad through training, games and recovery. England’s team is even larger, with players and staff totalling over 60 members, though there is a case to make that this worked to their detriment now!
But it isn’t just those in professional sport that are in need of help. Small businesses stand to benefit hugely from being given expert guidance to overcome the many challenges that they will face as they grow. By getting help from experts such as the upcoming small business commissioner role, issues such as late payments and battling bigger competitors won’t need to be faced alone by smaller businesses.
Get the insight you need
One of the most significant changes in modern rugby is the inclusion of a video referee to help with those difficult decisions referees can be faced with. Off-the-ball incidents and fouls concealed within scrums and rucks are no longer quite so invisible, and the game can flow with quick and fair decisions being made through the technology.
Technology and the visibility of data has had an equally important impact on how businesses operate. Before this revolution, businesses often didn’t have a strong grasp on where company money was being spent, and how long it took for incoming and outgoing payments to be processed and delivered. Replacing paper trails with centralised technology is vital to having a transparent culture within your business, gathering data and using this to inform strategy and decisions.
By applying lessons learned from the Rugby World Cup, businesses can hope to have the same impact as a towering forward line – breaking through the issues that they face and getting to the try line as smoothly as possible.
By David Vine, MD of UK SMB at Concur