What do Duke men’s basketball and entrepreneurship have in common? A bit more than you may think! Read on to hear about lessons you could learn from the culture of Coach K and 2017 ACC Tournament Champions.
People advise you to read books and articles about entrepreneurship when considering starting your own company – learn about the lean startup, delve deep into business plans and financial models, consider product market fit and customer needs. But sometimes, you need to look outside the typical startup environment for good examples. What better place to look than to the Duke men’s basketball program? Here are a few startup tips you can learn from the 2017 team.
Recruit the best. Duke men’s basketball consistently is a top 10 recruiting program. 2016-2017 was no different – with the program seeing ratings as high as 5 or 6 in the country. In order to compete for championships, you have to compete for the best players. Same goes for your company – who are the best people doing the work you want to do? What can you offer them that is different (and better!) than what they have now?
Hold team members accountable. The 2016-2017 season had some rough weeks. Coach K was out for back surgery, players missed games for injuries and suspensions, and things started to unravel from their early successes. During that time, players were told not to come to the locker room, and not to wear their Duke basketball apparel – until they could live up to the program’s standards. Set high standards for your team – and then expect that they live up to them. What are the values by which you want your company to operate? How will you confront team members whose actions don’t align with those values?
Don’t get too confident. The Duke men’s basketball team started as the preseason #1 team in the nation. By mid-season, they fell as low as #17 before ending the season as ACC Tournament Champions. With the nation watching and expecting great things, the team knew that the rankings didn’t matter – they had to stay humble, work hard, and great things would happen. Hopefully, as you start a company, you too will see early success, but know that there will be bumps in the road. How can you be proud of your accomplishments while also staying humble? What are things you know you still can improve upon?
Communicate. That commercial of Coach K texting emojis to Kyrie Irving wasn’t far off. Coach K knows the importance and value in strong communication with his team – he leads the way. By connecting to the players in ways they prefer and in places they are already communicating, he garners greater respect, which in turn leads to a stronger and better team. And a team that then communicates with each other in similar ways. Consider the methods by which you will communicate with your team. Can you be sure you’re showing genuine interest in their success and well-being? How can you demonstrate to them that you care?
Share the wealth. After Duke beat out Notre Dame for the ACC Championship, Luke Kennard (Naismith College Player of the Year Candidate) was interviewed. Kennard had an outstanding game – but his interview focused on their team growth and team success. He talked about how much they had overcome together, and how much he could see them growing moving forward. Consider ways you can also share successes as a team. How can you recognize people who work hard? How can the team celebrate accomplishments and milestones?
Study effective teams – regardless of industry – and you can always find some things to learn. Study teams like Duke basketball and you may end up with some national championships!