7 Things Small Businesses Can Learn from the Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions vibes

“Same Old Lions.” Any Detroit Lions fan knows the expression and the feeling of watching the team lose game after game, season after season. But this year is different! Our beleaguered team has been reinvented. For the first time in 32 years, the Lions are heading to the NFC championship game to play the San Francisco 49ers for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl! Regardless of how the season ends, the team has a lot to be proud of and we can learn a lot from them. You need grit and drive to win in football. The same can be said for owning a business. Here are some other things small businesses can learn from the Detroit Lions …

1. Leadership matters.

Lions coach Dan Campbell is getting heaps of national praise for his hard-hitting yet heart-warming style of leadership. He shares credit easily, shows up where and when it counts and helps his players believe that victory is possible. Small business leaders can get overwhelmed with the day-to-day and sometimes punt the “people-handling” of their business. But if you have a team, be sure you’re mindful of your role as leader. The expression that it “starts at the top” really is true. Think about how you can improve coaching and motivating your team. Start with a simple question: How can I help you do your job better?

2. Encourage teamwork.

One employee. That’s all it takes and, guess what, you’re a team. That means you must create a culture that fosters teamwork – just like the Lions. Be crystal clear about who does what. Make sure everyone knows their role, their responsibilities and that all areas of the business are covered. Small businesses thrive when there’s a cohesive team with a common goal, so be sure you communicate your vision and encourage and accept feedback from your team as they help you achieve that vision.

3. Tap into talent.

Football teams, like the Lions, are always scouting and recruiting top talent to help them improve their team and overall play. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire additional staff, consider hiring freelancers or contractors to help augment your abilities. You can also connect with organizations like Michigan Women Forward that offer free business training and small business loans.  

4. Be resilient.

The Lions personify the power of overcoming setbacks and disappointments – two things that are inevitable at some point for small businesses. Don’t let it get you down or dwell on those unfortunate “losses” for too long. Instead, channel your inner lion and pivot to a place of solutions and strategy.

5. Become a strategic planner.

The Lions winning season didn’t happen by accident. You can believe that they had S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals and a strategy for achieving those goals. Do the same for your small business. Where do you want to see your self next year? You can’t do it if you don’t identify your goals and plan a course of action to achieve them.

6. Be adaptable.

Some Lions may not play in the 49ers game due to injury. That’s part of football right? Players get injured and must rest up. But the team and the games go on. Businesses also face unexpected changes and need to adapt. Try to list the possible “injuries” that could affect your business, the things that would make you have to adapt and create a plan for what you would do in that situation. And if something you didn’t plan comes up, tap into a creative, strategic mindset – just like the Lions would do.

7. Engage your ‘fans’

The Lions fans were so supportive of their team during the Rams and Buccaneers games that they broke decibel records at Ford Field with their cheers. You can bet that boosted the Lions’ morale and play and was a distraction to their challengers. And while your “fans” may not break decibel records, they can still shout your praise on their social media channels or online reviews. Take a page out of the Lions playbook and cultivate and leverage your fan base to help you win.

Add Michigan Women Forward to you team. Get information on applying for a small business loan to help seed or scale your business. We are a CDFI, equal opportunity lender that provides loans to Michigan entrepreneurs and small businesses.