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The Globe and Mail

Batter up: How small business is like baseball

As the Toronto Blue Jays took the field against the Oakland As last week, it struck me that there are many similarities between baseball and small businesses .

1. Baseball can be a long game to play, particularly if the opposing managers change pitchers and bring pinch-hitters into the game.

In business, success rarely occurs overnight. Instead, it comes over time, with lots twists, changes in direction and new players along the way. Entrepreneurs, like baseball managers, must learn to be patient.

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2. In baseball, everyone loves home runs, but there are far more outs than hits. More than seven times out of 10, baseball players fail to get a hit when they go to bat.

While success stories are celebrated, many businesses fail, too, despite the best of intentions and a lot of hard work.

In baseball, players get another turn at bat even after striking out, hopefully with knowledge that they can apply to be successful.

In business, failure shouldn't be seen as a negative thing. Instead, it's a way to learn so that the next day or the next business is done better and smarter.

3. In baseball, even a team's best and most popular players can leave for other teams.

They leave for more money, a new boss, a change in scenery or the chance to work with friends.

In business, good employees leave even if they are paid well, treated with respect, or work in an office with a healthy corporate culture.

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Like baseball, the key is to replace the players you lose with good "free agents" who can keep the business running without losing a beat. While losing someone is disappointing, life - in baseball or in business - goes on.

4. A baseball manager has to know how to manage people as much as how to manage the game on the field. A manager needs to know what makes different people tick, what motivates them, and when to give them a pat on the bat or a kick in the pants

In business, the boss needs to know how to operate the business, create marketing and do sales. But at the same time, managing people is essential to get the most out of employees in a way that gets the job done and, hopefully, provides job satisfaction.

5. Winning is great but playing as well as you can is more important - whether in baseball or in business.

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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About the Author
Content/Communications Strategist

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a strategic communications and content consultancy that works with start-ups and fast-growing companies looking to drive their marketing, communications and content activities. More

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