4 Major Lessons from Super Bowl LI We Can Apply to Small Business

Were you one of the over 111 million people who watched the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI? If not, you have probably heard that this was not just any Super Bowl. It was a historic moment when the New England Patriots made the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. After being down 28-3 in the third quarter, Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady led their team to success in a 34-28 overtime win; an ending not even Hollywood could have written.

While we may appreciate Super Bowl LI as the fine piece of entertainment that it was, it is also important to see the many parallels between the game and your small business journey. Here are four major lessons from Super Bowl LI that you can apply to business.

Never Underestimate Potential

Tom Brady has been deemed the best quarterback in football, but he was not always viewed that way. The Patriots drafted him in 2000 but not until the sixth round (199th pick overall). Teams were not very impressed with him, saying that he was skinny, not very athletic and slow. Meanwhile, the Patriots did not even need another quarterback, but they choose Brady because of his “mental makeup and leadership skills.

That’s right. While other teams were vying for the athletes perceived as the top talent in the draft, the Patriots focused on finding team members who had the right traits and characteristics, and who they knew they could work with to develop their other skills and bring them to full potential.

There were six quarterbacks drafted before Brady in 2000. You probably wouldn’t even recognize their names today, and Tom Brady has started in more games than all of them combined.

As an organization, the Patriots make a practice of looking for players who bring that something ‘special’ to the team, not just athletic ability.

Small Business Action Points

  • When hiring, look for people who have the natural talents that you value the most.
  • Look for the ability to learn, potential, and a ‘spirit’ that matches your business.
  • Train these valuable team members so they can develop their skills!

Preparation and Attention to Details

While Tom Brady may be considered the star of the New England Patriots, he could not possibly do what he does without the help of many talented teammates and coaches. At the helm, coordinating it all is head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick has had 42 years of coaching experience and has been with the Patriots since 2000, bringing home 5 Super Bowl wins – more than any other coach in NFL history.

Players have often been asked what makes Bill Belichick different from other coaches, and there are some surprising similarities in the answers. For one, Belichick is known for intense preparation before each game to understand the opponent and make a plan. He then passes that plan down to his players and coaching staff, teaching them what they need to do and holding them accountable for their performance.

These traits were certainly put to use to plan for Super Bowl LI. A whiteboard was found in the team’s locker room after the game, which revealed plays, player names, and a large list of MUSTS that included “Start Fast & Do Your Job Well.”

Small Business Action Points

  • Carefully think out your business plan. Create a detailed plan for each PART of the business, including marketing, sales, operations, etc.
  • Study your market, your competition, your customers, and your industry, so you understand the ‘fine details.’
  • Delegate your plan to team members and make sure there is also a way to hold them accountable for performance.
  • Be a LEADER. Without a great leader at the helm, a business can never steer to success.

There Will Be Haters

We could not write this story without pointing out the fact that there will always be haters. The New England Patriots have a large band of loyal followers, but not everyone has jumped on that bandwagon. In fact, just before Super Bowl LI, a new poll revealed that the Patriots are the most disliked team in the NFL for the second year in a row. Check out any list of “most hated NFL teams,” and the Patriots are sure to claim a spot near the top of the list.

Some will say this dislike comes from the simple fact that they are so good at what they do. Others will say it comes from controversies, such as Deflategate, that surround them. Regardless, there will always be haters, and all you can do is deal with it by ignoring it.

The same holds true in business. Perhaps it is a competitor, a disgruntled customer or client, or someone else who looks adversely at your business. You may never be able to change the minds of others, so hold onto your integrity and beliefs. Those who matter, your current and future clients, will see beyond the noise, just like the loyal Patriots followers, and sing your praises.

Small Business Action Points

  • Don’t let other people control who you are and where you spend your time.
  • Accept that every person will not be your biggest fan. There will always be critics (customer or competition).
  • Focus on what you do best, giving your customers the ultimate product and service experience…because they are who you are speaking to, not this outside ‘noise.’

Stay Positive and Bounce Back

Super Bowl LI was a perfect example of how you cannot give up when you are under pressure…or at least not if you want to claim the title of Champion.

Although Atlanta had racked up 28 points in the earlier parts of the game, the New England defense was able to buckle down during the third quarter and prevent any further scoring. Although New England had only put a lonely 3 point field goal on the board by the third quarter, the offense (led by Brady) was able to charge forward in the second half and overtime, for 31 additional points that gave them the win.

It was a full team effort, but also the work of a strong leader – quarterback Tom Brady. After the game, NFL experts convened to ask, “What makes Brady different from other elite quarterbacks?” How was he able to orchestrate the largest comeback in Super Bowl history?

The commentators mentioned how Brady had said, “We have been in worse situations than this.” He did not focus on the interception that happened earlier. He did not focus on the score. He remained confident, concentrated on each upcoming play, and made the necessary adjustments to take home the win.

Small Business Action Points

  • As the leader of your team (business), it is your job to set the tone for your businesses, both when things are going great, and when they are not going so well.
  • Your ability to react and communicate will organize your team to a common goal.
  • Your mental outlook trickles down to other team members. Make sure it is positive and productive.

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