Part 4: Why you should run your startup like a sports team

by Jeff Hilimire on March 24, 2014

In Part 1: Why you should run your startup like a sports team, I talked about the importance of having a Common Goal and how that applies to both startups and sports teams. In Part 2, I talked about making sure your startup focuses attention on having the right people and, based on the makeup of the team and the goals you’re trying to accomplish, that those people are in the right position. In Part 3, I discussed the importance of drive and passion in a startup.

This final segment of why you should run your startup like a sports team focuses on, what else but: Culture.

In sports, I’ve been a part of losing teams and a part of winning teams. The cultures of these teams varied dramatically.

A winning team’s culture often looks like this:

  • Positive
  • Supportive
  • Focused
  • Intentional

A losing team’s culture often looks like this:

  • Negative
  • Selfish
  • Un-inspired
  • Blaming
  • Grasping / reactive

Even teams that are “winners” start to recognize when they have a culture problem. The Miami Heat are dealing with that right now. They’ve won back to back titles, are the favorites to win it again, but as they go into the playoffs they’ve hit a losing streak and their leaders are well aware of how their culture is affecting them:

“We can’t sweep this under the rug,” James said. “We have to come together and have more of a sense of urgency. We’re more reactive now than proactive.”

“It’s impossible to have that same fire and motivation and hunger [as last season],” said Chris Bosh, who had a miserable shooting night by missing nine of his first 10 shots.

“The hunger changes and we don’t have the same motivation. We have to find different motivations.”

Culture is the backbone of startups and sports teams. Hang out in a locker room or a team meeting at a startup and you’ll quickly be able to to tell if they have a winning attitude or a losing one.

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