Why running an online business is like a game of rugby

Don't drop the ballI was at rugby training the other day and I was struck by how similar the advice for rugby players is to the advice I’d give to people starting up and running an online business.

Whether you’re an expert or a novice, you can take the advice of a rugby coach and apply it to your online business.

There’s a role for everyone

Rugby is a great sport for having a place in the team for everyone, from the short stocky kid to the giant beanpole.

Similarly, in the world of online business there’s a place or niche for pretty much anyone with any skill set.

Granted, some skill sets are going to be valued more highly than others (just like in rugby) but whatever your strengths you can find a place.

Put it in (or “There’s no substitute for Hard work”)

You may be a natural.  You may have secured a large funding source.  You may have killer skills in X, Y or Z.  But wherever you start from and whatever you want to achieve you have to work at it.

If you make the mistake of searching for “Make Money Online”  and paying $79 for the “How I made $12000 in one month” system you are going to be sadly disappointed.

They are get rich quick schemes. but it’s not you who will be getting rich with them, it’s the owners of the schemes.

There’s no substitute for research, learning and hard work.

Look after the ball

In rugby one of the key things is to look after the ball.  When you have the ball you can make things happen.  When you get tackled you secure the ball and your team keeps moving forward.

In business it’s your business itself you need to look after.  Keep it moving forward.  If you hit a snag or problem, secure it and decide where the next point of attack is going to be.

Not every play you make is going to be successful, but keep things moving in the right direction and you will reach your goals.

Run straight


In rugby the mantra of “run straight” means that you’re moving in the right direction and more importantly you aren’t blocking off opportunities and space that your team mates can use.

The analogy here is to have a goal in front of you.  In business this is often known as having SMART targets.

Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed.

If you set target like this for yourself you will get a sense of achievement when you complete something.

Why not take a moment towards the end of each day to take a look at what you’ve done in that day to move your business forward.  Then set some targets for tomorrow.

Make sure you don’t just work “in” your business, work “on” your business

Use the pain to your advantage

Sometimes it hurts. In rugby it’s obvious why. You’re hurtling full pelt into a group of large fellas who are intent on stopping you and smashing you to the ground.

With online business it shouldn’t be physically painful; If it is you’re doing something wrong. But there will be times that you’ve put hours of work into something only to find it’s not going how you planned.  At times like these it can feel like physical pain.

This is when you need to take the advice of the rugby coach.  You know what you’re doing is not working so take a breather and find a moment to reassess what you’re trying to achieve and whether you’re going the right way about it.

It may be that you are doing everything right and you just need to keep doing the same thing and it will come good.

But in most circumstances that assessment will highlight something that can be changed, some little tweak the you can make to push things forward.

And in some cases it may be that you really have messed up and you need to completely change your angle of attack.

Use this time, pay attention to your observations and learn form your mistakes as some of your greatest achievements could come out of moments like this.

Stick at it

I started playing rugby in my mid thirties, when most people are retiring. I’ve had 2 injuries that have kept me out of the game for over a year each. But when fit I’ll be straight back in there because I love it.

You will make mistakes every time you play. You just have to try to learn from the mistakes.

Every time you build a new site, make sure you go into it with a fresh set of eyes and without any preconceptions about what is going to work. Maybe everything will go smoothly, but chances are, each time you do something there will be problems, glitches and difficulties. You should welcome them and learn as much as you can.

Other things you do will need a long time to mature and you will have to nurture them through the barren times to see any sort of return on your investment.  But stick at it because these projects have the chance to come good if you  give them the time and the effort.

Be positive

There’s always someone faster than you, someone bigger than you.

With rugby it’s a silky runner with a great sidestep who moves so fast you can’t get near them, or the back rower who’s built like a brick outhouse and can bulldoze you without a thought.

With online business it’s the established company in  the niche you’re targeting, or the web marketing guru who claims to be able to set up 10 profitable website before breakfast.

But you can’t let those things worry you.  Do what you are planning to do and do it well. Concentrate on your site. Make it look good.

Most of all, provide value for your users so that they want to keep coming back.

And if you can do all this with a smile on your face then you’re moving in the right direction.

So, what about the differences?

xl__6BK0676The biggest difference is that rugby is a team sport. If you miss something, someone else should be there to cover for you, to make the tackle or clear out the ruck.

That’s not always the case with online business.  You  may well be on your own and will need to find other ways to hook into a team-like structure to give you back up and to consult about your ideas.

You could try local business groups or join or create a mastermind group.  These things can be a massive help to keep you fresh and keep you moving in the right direction.

In summary

  • Put the effort in
  • Look after your business
  • Set SMART targets
  • Use your failures as learning material
  • Stick at it
  • Be positive
  • Utilize people around you
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