It’s halftime! Are you winning?

NBA Basketball

Most small business leaders have no defined goals, they’re unsure what to keep track of and they’re floating from year to year

By David Fuller

“How do we win?” I asked.

“We need to score baskets,” they answered.

“How do we score baskets?” Donncha asked.

“We need to pass and we need to shoot,” they answered.

Our questions went on and on. The scoreboard told the story. It was halftime and our team was down by six points. The girls sat exhausted on the floor, while the coaches, Donncha and I, gave them a minute to rest and reviewed our game strategy with them. We knew that they needed to be focused to win the game and so we talked about our goals for the game and the bigger goals for the season.

It’s June already, almost halftime in business – are you winning?

When I ask business leaders if they’re winning, I usually get a blank look.

Some businesses are unsure if they’re making more or less money than last year. The majority have no idea if they’ve used up their budgets for marketing or if they’re getting results from that marketing because they don’t budget and they don’t measure. Sales are something that many business owners pray keep coming because they don’t have a system for tracking what’s in the sales funnel. Wages are going up but there are businesses that have no clue whether the percentage they’re spending on wages has changed from the previous year.

Average sales, customer counts, customer service scores, industry key performance indicators (KPIs) – the game is going on but there’s no strategy for winning.

The reality is that many smaller businesses don’t know because they aren’t even looking at the scoreboard. They aren’t getting regular comparative financial statements and the only way they think they can tell is by the bank balance because this is the way they do it at home.

But the bank balance lies. One business owner I talked to a few weeks ago thought she was winning because her bank account told her that she was making good money, but her balance sheet told me that she had a lot of cheques that hadn’t cleared yet.

Unfortunately, most business leaders of smaller organizations don’t know what winning is. They have no defined goals, they’re unsure what to keep track of, and they’re floating from year to year hoping to keep their heads above water. Many don’t even know how to play the great game of business because they got into business for other reasons. They were standing on the sidelines watching and someone invited them to play, without teaching them the rules.

Business, like sports, can be a lot of fun if you don’t foul out, score for the other team or become totally exhausted.

In business, you can get paid well to play, you can have time off to rest and you can have fun with your team. However, most people don’t enjoy any of these benefits because they haven’t been trained properly and they don’t understand the rules of business.

If you don’t have a game plan, it might be time to generate one. Set some goals for the rest of the year and start measuring them. If you’re a leader and stuck with this, fire me an email ( I’ll send you a business effectiveness evaluation that will score you in 10 areas of the game of business and help you figure out where you could put some energy to start winning more.

Our girls went on to win the game and had a winning season of 18 wins and four losses. They understood the rules of the game and what it takes to win. They were committed to playing as a team and putting in the effort it takes. Win they did, despite great odds.

How about you? Are you going to win despite the great odds?

Columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is the author of the book ProfitYourselfHealthy. Unsure if you’re winning? Email

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