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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay, centre, celebrates with Carlos Ruiz, right, and Ryan Howard after Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins May 29, 2010 in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee)
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay, centre, celebrates with Carlos Ruiz, right, and Ryan Howard after Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins May 29, 2010 in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee)

Start: Mark Evans

Today's baseball lesson: Perfection takes time Add to ...

Roy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past decade, winning a Cy Young Award during his storied career as a Toronto Blue Jay.

Yet it took 13 years and 324 games before Mr. Halladay threw a perfect game, which happened on Saturday against the Florida Marlins. It is a rare feat that has only been achieved 20 times in the history of major league baseball.

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In typical fashion, the modest Mr. Halladay said the perfect game was a result of "a lot of luck, a little bit of execution and defence."

Given Mr. Halladay's talent and the fact he has come close on a few occasions to throwing a perfect game or a no-hitter, luck may have played a small rather than a big role in making it happen.

For small businesses and entrepreneurs, Mr. Halladay's game illustrates that perfect doesn't happen overnight. It's a result of hard work on a consistent basis, and a steady stream of strategic and tactical adjustments. Mr. Halladay's success overshadows the reality that his major league baseball career almost ended in 2000, when he allowed 107 hits in only 67 innings. He had to return to the minor leagues to completely relearn his craft - something many players can never do.

At the same time, Mr. Halladay is renowned for his work ethic. His off-season conditioning program is extreme compared with most players, as well as how he prepares himself between games.

Many small businesses do not enjoy instant success or even modest success for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it has to do with the wrong product or service, other times it comes down to poor marketing or unattractive prices.

The key is to be able to make strategic and tactical adjustments on the fly. Just as the talented Mr. Halladay had to go back to basics in the minor leagues, many businesses need to accept that what they're doing isn't working, and that they need to recalibrate or risk disappearing.

The reality is these changes can be difficult to accept or implement. Many entrepreneurs are trapped because they're so married to a particular vision of what their business should be. This is a dangerous situation because it can make change impossible.

Seeking outside counsel is a smart and pragmatic move, even if it's from friends willing to provide frank advice. Mr. Halladay's saviour was a pitching coach named Mel Queen, who helped rebuild his game from scratch without discouraging a young player with enormous talent.

For small businesses looking to fix or change what they do, finding a "Mel Queen" can be the difference between being a major league star or a disappointing bust.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

 

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