Most people know me from my days playing baseball. I was fortunate to do something I loved for 21 years and learned a lot about life and business along the way. When my baseball career ended, I decided to pursue my second passion – buying and restoring classic American cars.
I took the lessons learned from playing baseball and applied them to my business venture, Reggie’s Garage. From hundreds of lessons, I found seven that were important enough to share with you here. These seven tips will help you turn your dream into an actual business.
1. Follow your passion
Starting and running a small business can be difficult. You’re the person turning on the lights in the morning and the last one to lock up at night. You’ll lose sleep over your decisions and mistakes. The passion that you bring every day will help you get over the humps and past the mountains that are in front of you. Entrepreneurs without passion eventually give up on their dreams. I’ve seen it happen many times.
2. Start small and build a solid foundation
Don’t bite off more than you can chew or that you can afford. If you have a plan for your business, stay focused on it. If you find that the plan isn’t working, make changes to it so that you don’t get stuck or go down a wrong path. Start with your first sale and complete the process all the way to putting money into your bank account. If anything goes wrong in the transaction, solve the problem so it doesn’t happen again.
3. Make it personal
You’re building on your personal brand, reputation, and integrity, whether you are running a garage, restaurant, or law firm. Touch everything you can in your business; know how every aspect of the company works. If this sounds like too much work, go back to my first tip (passion) and re-read it.
4. Deliver a superior customer experience
Look at your business, but think like a customer. I find that delivering a top-notch customer experience is about consistently doing the small things right. This is the formula for success.
5. Learn to overcome setbacks
You’ll make mistakes. Failure is inevitable, and it usually stings when it happens. In baseball, I struck out more than any other player in the history of the game! I also hit 563 home runs and made it into the baseball Hall of Fame. I remember some games when I struck out in my first three at-bats; on the fourth time, I got the game-winning hit. As long as you are still in the game, there is an opportunity for you to overcome setbacks and win. Even if you lose a game, there is always tomorrow. Don’t let setbacks end your season or your business.
6. Build the best team for your business
Your employees must share the passion you have for your product or service. Tell them “I need your help to become successful.” As humans, we all want to know that we matter and that we can make a difference. The passion, the sincerity each person brings to your business will connect the links and deliver success. And when hiring people, remember that diversity creates an advantage. In baseball, you would never want a team filled with power hitters; you need players who can get on base – hit singles and doubles. In business, you want employees from different backgrounds who will bring unique perspectives and personalities into your company.
7. Select the right partners
At Reggie’s Garage, we have outstanding partnerships with companies such as SAP, Google, and Classic Industries. Like my employees, my partners play a very important role in the success of my company. I remember meeting SAP CEO Bill McDermott and telling him about my love of cars and the dream I had for my business. He said, “we want to be your partner!” I didn’t even have to ask him for help. He saw my sincerity and genuinely wanted to help Reggie’s Garage become successful.
The challenge for each business owner is to find partners that take an active role in the success of their company. They know that when you win, they win.
Starting a small business isn’t easy, but the reward of seeing your business succeed is enormous. As you build your company, and you get stuck along the way, remember the reason you started the business in the first place. Revisit the passion you have for what you do, and don’t ever lose it.
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