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3 tips to be the Los Angeles Lakers of small businesses

Special to USA TODAY
Published 8:00 a.m. ET Oct. 14, 2020

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Let’s say that you’ve never picked up a basketball but decided that without basketball your life was incomplete – bias alert #1!

Would you be better off learning how to shoot from LeBron James, or spending hours and hours of trial and error by yourself without any professional feedback?

The right answer is as obvious as a slam dunk. 

But the thing is, that is exactly what too many small business people do; they open their business and fail to realize that there are a lot of examples of success out there.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you run a small business. There are a lot of ways to learn how to score from downtown – and don’t even begin to think that I have yet to tire of this metaphor!

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Indeed, aside from small business, another true passion of mine is basketball, having even written The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the NBA – bias alert #2. One thing I have noticed over the years is just how much crossover there is between the two subjects.

Witness the Los Angeles Lakers and their latest championship, their 17th – tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most ever. The Lakers, as both a team and organization, do many things right, things we small business people can learn from and emulate.

1. You gotta have a great team

Needless to say, to win a championship – be it an NBA championship or a small business one – you must have talent. The Lakers roster of stellar players goes way back to my childhood NBA hero Jerry West, and then extends to a veritable “Who’s Who” of NBA greatness – Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and now, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

But here’s the deal, talent alone does not win championships. 

That talent must be molded into and play as a team. Whether you think LeBron is the greatest or not, it is undeniable that one of his best attributes is that he is a great team player. He performs, he passes, he praises. LeBron shares the ball and the glory.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are champions in their first season together with the Lakers. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

Magic Johnson was the same way; aside from his legendary no-look passes, and long after it was clear that the Lakers were his team, Magic always made sure that the elder Kareem remained the captain of the squad. “Cap” and his teammates noticed. 

And so it should be with your small business team. It is when you work together, supporting one another, encouraging one another, and helping and appreciating one another, that the best happens. 

2. Winning begets winning

A winning attitude is infectious. People, players and, yes, customers notice and want to be part of a winning organization. Winning (on or off the court) creates a winning culture that creeps into and infects (in a good way) everything the team or business does. It helps mediocre talent strive for better and it helps recruit top talent.

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It also fills up the stands … and the cash register.

3. A little sizzle goes a long way

Back in the 1970s, the NBA was a dead sport. Drug infested and boring, it’s hard to imagine that the NBA Finals were tape delayed and shown at 11:30 pm.  

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird changed all that, and Magic especially, with his magnetic smile and personality, lit up a room and a league. LeBron joining the Lakers last year was similarly buzz-worthy.

For you, having fun, letting your stars shine, and showing some small business personality (as opposed to some boring corporate image) can go a long way to getting your business noticed.

So go ahead, copy what works. After all, while the GOAT (greatest of all time) Michael Jordan was the original and won six championships, the late, great Kobe Bryant admittedly copied much of his game from MJ. 

And he won five championships. 

Now there’s an assist that can really help you score! 

Steve Strauss is an attorney, speaker and the author of 17 books, including “The Small Business Bible.” You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com, get more tips at his site TheSelfEmployed, and connect with him on Twitter @SteveStrauss and on Facebook at TheSelfEmployed.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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