Business lessons from tennis


It was interesting reading Rachel Bridge’s article in the Sunday Times this week, whilst watching Andy Murray lose to Roger Federer in the final of the Australian Open. Rachel is the paper’s enterprise editor and her column is always worth a general look (though I sometimes wonder, cheekily, if she plagiarizes my articles).
And now you are wondering what she and tennis have in common – and what they have to do with current economic conditions and your business.
Advantage Europe
Well, first it is well documented in Andy Murray’s early career that, aged 16, he left dear Old Blighty for Spain to live and train near Madrid. Why? Because UK tennis facilities were not good enough for him to develop so he could compete at the highest level. In Spain they had a proven route, and the facilities, to turn (or churn) out a whole line of players who reached the world’s top 100. (So, incidentally, has France.)
The same is true in Europe in business. They have the infrastructure in France, Germany and many other countries for credit to be found – and this enabled them to pull themselves out of recession faster than we have done in the UK. So, as I see it, it is always worth looking at other markets to gain an advantage. Whether for funding or for business reasons, take yourself out of your comfort zone and look abroad. Some of the European banks may be far more willing to lend money at the moment.
Develop your winning strokes
Next let’s look at Roger Federer. He totally dominates his opponents on court because he has found the winning solution and, once he starts it, he does more of the same. He doesn’t try to do anything else but play his game because it works for him. So many people I know, who are making good money and have all the skills in place for their type of business, suddenly decide to change their business model to do something completely different. If you have a winning formula, why not use your energies to be even better at what you do? Use Federer as an example.
Change your game
However, if it’s all going horribly wrong then you are going to have to change something. That’s the reverse of the Federer point, and was what Murray needed to do. He was losing easily and had to change his game plan. In his case, this meant becoming more positive mentally, and less defensive in his game, or the title was going to run away from him.
It’s the same in business. If it is not going well, I am not saying you should panic but, if you are still losing money after a certain amount of time, then you should analyse what you are doing, look at ways of adapting your model, and make subtle changes – before it is too late.
Identify your best shots
It’s the analysis that is important. Study your business match play to look for what has worked – and resolve to do more of it – and seek out the areas in which you are underperforming – and resolve to adapt, change or drop them.
Nowadays, sport, and tennis especially, are built around statistics. The good players and their coaches map their performance within a game: the number of unforced errors, double faults, first serves in, etc, etc. However, it is often the case that most businesses don’t know or understand their equivalent statistics: the KPIs (key performance indicators) that make their business work. What are yours?
Federer has a high percentage of forehand winners. So he keeps playing from his forehand. What is your best shot? And be warned, it may be something that you take for granted and don’t push.
For example, in my business, we are building a model to measure leasing contracts against profit. We start by looking at the number of dealers we have, the number of times they give us proposals, the number of those proposals we accept and the number of those acceptances that are taken up. That should tell us whether, if all the business that is proposed is accepted, and then taken up, the managers in our business need only find more dealers to increase our levels of business and profit.
However if our levels of business drop, and we have the same number of dealers and the same proposal and credit acceptance rates, should we conclude that we are being priced out the market by a competitor? Or, if the number of proposals is reducing, is this an economic effect of less business in the whole market or are our dealers selling the wrong equipment?
If you don’t analyse your business, you can’t make subtle improvements and the same pattern will continue, not necessarily to your advantage.
Back to the tennis court
Let’s look again at Andy Murray’s performance. Compared with Federer, he was poor at taking advantage of short balls. The statistics prove it. So he now knows that he has to improve this area of his game.
Supposing that you know, from your statistics, that your business is poor at converting quotes to customers. The positives might be that you are getting lots of quotes, but you are failing somehow at the quotation point. Is that because you don’t offer a service that others include, or is it a wrong price break? You won’t know unless you look.
Look beyond the obvious and have a game plan
So, to conclude, first you could look at markets outside the UK if you want to improve. Then, if you are doing something right do more of it and, if you are going backwards, think about changing something. Never, ever stop analysing your business. And, last, always have a game plan even if, as in Federer’s case, it is just doing what you do best. Remember, he planned it that way.
Good luck and I hope you hone your skills to become a world-beating, champion business.
If you would like to look at your business model, in confidence, contact peter.savage@azule.co.uk. If you’ve missed previous articles in this series, or would like to comment via our blog, look at www.azule.co.uk.

Tags: finance | azule | business | tennis | iss038 | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Azule Finance at BVE 2016

    Azule Finance at BVE 2016

  • Azule Finance at BVE 2013

    Azule Finance at BVE 2013

  • Five Arrows Media Finance at IBC 2015

    Five Arrows Media Finance at IBC 2015

  • Kit Financing with Medialease at NAB 2017

    Kit Financing with Medialease at NAB 2017

  • Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013


Related Shows
  • Paragon Bank Technology Finance at BVE 2016

    Paragon Bank Technology Finance at BVE 2016


Articles
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
Live audio contribution over wireless networks
Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Wireless “live” contribution from anywhere at any time, this is the ultimate goal for most news reporters. The old favorite of using ISDN is becoming harder and much more expensive to access easily. Today most of us use wireless daily, in particular Wifi and HSPA/LTE 4G networks. These are now mature technologies and widely used for many applications in the home and whilst out and about. However there are still some professionals who prefer to persevere with the traditional, costly and limited ISDN communication technology before jumping into the wireless era.
Tags: iss133 | adrl | wireless audio | isdn | cellular audio | Pablo Rodrigues Altmann
Contributing Author Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Click to read or download PDF
Peli Air 1507 Review
Phil Vinter Originally named after a bird that carries its precious cargo through the skies, it was, perhaps, only a matter of time before Peli released its Air range.
Tags: iss133 | peli | peli air 1507 | trekpak | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
Fast-moving productions need multi-cam RF reliability
Darren Bilton Wireless acquisition creates a level of freedom not possible with any other form of filming yet only a decade ago the technique was barely possible. The technology enabling live real-time connections over radio frequencies has advanced leaps and bounds such that there is barely an entertainment, documentary, sports or news format today that doesn’t benefit from at least one link system. That means the demands on the kit continues to rise and includes the need for fail safe multi-camera operation, ease of use and backwards compatibility all within a small, lightweight and budget-friendly package.
Tags: iss133 | boxx tv | wireless | mpeg-4 | multicam | rf | multi-cam | Darren Bilton
Contributing Author Darren Bilton Click to read or download PDF
Trade shows and their role in the wired world
Richard Baker Historically trade shows afforded an opportunity to collect the latest brochures relevant to the visitor's chosen industry or career path. Today there seems little reason to store data of any kind, let alone paper brochures, when information is so easily accessible online. Brochure back-packing at exhibitions has become a rare sight, rarer still since the security clampdown on visitor luggage at exhibitions. Today's efficient show delegate need only carry a mobile phone and, in deference to tradition, a bundle of business cards. The phone doubles as a snapshot camera, video camera, dictaphone, email reader, internet browser, Skype communicator, and so on.
Tags: iss133 | finepoint | ibc | nab | kitplus show | bve | Richard Baker
Contributing Author Richard Baker Click to read or download PDF