Rest assured, your humble blogger has always been planted firmly on the West Coast side of one of the most divisive cultural arguments in Canada: simply put, will your preference be the Vancouver Canucks, or Toronto Maple Leafs? I lived in Toronto for quite some time. I have many Torontonian friends, all of whom delight in rubbing salt in the many wounds left by Vancouver’s fumbling history in the sport of professional hockey. I acknowledge that Merchant Advance Capital itself has proudly expanded not far from the lovely lakeshore of that fair Eastern city. And yet, I remain steadfastly dedicated.
That being said, I could not suppress a pang of hurt when I heard today’s news that those guys in the blue sweaters in the Eastern Conference of the NHL decided to relieve coach Randy Carlyle of his duties. Carlyle’s dismissal comes during what seems like the latest in a string of miscues for the long-suffering Leafs. As this blog has examined before, hockey is a business. And a highly lucrative one at that. So, what can your business learn from the way Carlyle and his team have handled (and mishandled) the pressure of competition? Without further ado:
- Be Flexible and Open to Change
Sadly, Toronto under Carlyle was a team unable to shake itself free from a dogged pursuit of certain flawed ideas. The Maple Leafs ignored the oft-repeated maxim that it is better to fail early and often in the pursuit of greater knowledge than to ignore key signs and implode catastrophically at a critical moment. As a previous entry on this blog investigated, entrepreneurs and businesspeople who miss the mark with their first efforts are statistically inclined to try again with a renewed, often radically revised approach. Many of these second efforts go on to become truly successful businesses that ought not to repeat the mistakes of their forebears. As the Maple Leafs continued to pile up more losses in their recent seasons, their inflexibility reminds us that “the definition of crazy is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”
- Take Ownership
When things go wrong, the handling of your response can either redeem or doom any efforts to reconcile with your customer base. This is especially true in the age of social media marketing, where poorly thought out responses to user criticism can invite even more scorn from online readers. The Maple Leafs, unfortunately, did little to stem controversy as blame shifted between the players and management staff. Toronto defenceman Cody Franson was asked by a journalist whether the team had failed deliberately in order to sully their coach’s name. Meanwhile, the coach himself implied weakness on the part of the management:
“How it works is you have an organization that provides you with players, and our job, as we’ve said all along, is just to coach ’em up.”
These kinds of deflections of responsibility are not ideal. In the best case scenario, organizations caught in gaffes or having to explain poor decisions are able to do so quickly, transparently, and by taking ownership of their actions rather than shifting blame.
- Aim for Consistency
Of the many items buzzing around the Toronto sporting media since the coach’s firing, one word seems to chorus out of the spilled ink: “consistency.” This was a team that could win nine games, then lose the next seven. The unpredictable pattern of boom and bust raised the ire of many fans – and likely contributed to Carlyle’s dismissal. For a small business, consistency can be valuable as well. Consistent, predictable management of things like accounts payable, lines of credit and other financial resources will do wonders for your overall credit score and will thus impact your ability to obtain working capital. A merchant advance offers a way to repay your balance in a consistent manner that is designed not to take a toll on your monthly financial performance, and can help you manage cash flow in the case of a seasonal business pattern.