What Florida Gulf Coast Teaches Small Business Owners

Cinderella lives.

Seemingly every NCAA Men’s basketball tournament (aka, March Madness) has a team that defies the odds, knocks off a couple of highly ranked foes and skips into the Sweet 16 … and beyond. In recent years, George Mason, VCU and Davidson have all worn the glass slipper.

Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield after the Eagles advanced to the Sweet 16.

This year’s Cinderella is unquestionably the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles. With an improbable win over tradition-rich Georgetown, followed by a do-no-wrong second half against San Diego State last night, this NCAA D1 newcomer is playing with a level of energy and a flair that’s captivating the American media.

Besides the sheer enjoyment of watching these upstarts from Ft. Myers, is there a lesson for small business owners?

You bet!

On Saturday morning, ESPN hoops analyst Jimmy Dykes was analyzing the FGCU win with a knowledgeable panel. One colleague mentioned that the Eagles weren’t the only team that used a spread offense, and it was mostly a story of the Hoyas not having the collective will to match their opponent’s constant motion.

What Dykes said (paraphrasing here) is that Florida Gulf Coast raced through their cuts without the ball at a level of speed and precision you rarely see. It was this attention to the smallest details, combined with a fearless mindset and a sense of controlled abandon that made this team unstoppable.

Almost every college basketball team depends on off-the-ball movement to set picks and exploit a defense. But Eagles’ coach Andy Enfield (who earned an MBA and walked away from a Wall Street career to coach basketball) understood that it would take an off-the-charts level of energy and commitment for his 15th-seeded club to knock off 2-seed Georgetown.

The same thing holds true for successful small businesses. To some extent, all companies are attentive to the needs of the customer. But the true winners are the ones that execute consistently at a higher level than their competition.

Think of your business. Does your team consistently execute the fundamentals with a commitment to delighting your customer? Do you set goals and attach each opportunity with energy, creativity and a will to be the best? Do you give your “players” the latitude to put their personal stamp on their jobs? Do you reward them for doing great work?

Regardless of how Florida Gulf Coast fares against in-state rival Florida this Friday, the Eagles have brought something magical to March Madness and have reminded us that in business and life, almost nothing is impossible.

“Fresh Ideas” are published each week by Countybank and its family of financial service companies. With offices in Greenville and Greenwood, Countybank has a team of highly engaged professionals that delivers a full scope of financial solutions designed to help families and businesses reach their goals.