Eyes on the Prize: The Sabermetrics of a Successful Startup

Many of us were struck with awe in 2001 as a seemingly rogue GM, Billy Beane, set the world of baseball on its ear by assessing talent through the use of an analytic lens now referred to as sabermetrics. Assessing the limited financial budget (approximately 1/3 of most teams at the time) and human resources (management, advisory staff, and talent) at his disposal, Beane took bold innovative strides in evaluating existing and new talent, looking senior executives on his staff in the eyes and pitching them a whole new way of thinking, “cleaning house” and replacing players who seemed like the “sure thing” with a variety of players who seemed, to the public eye, to be too high-risk to invest in.

The point behind the story of Billy Beane is that we, as CEOs or employees with a vested interest in making sure our companies prosper, often forget to take the necessary step back to assess and refocus our traditional analytical processes, to take the leap of faith necessary to step up to the plate and achieve success.

While sabermetrics primarily pertains to baseball analytics, the basic principles of team/product assessment development can be applied to any business. If you’re thinking of starting (or rebranding) a company, consider the following:

(1) Know the market. Who is your target audience and what do they want that you are willing to provide? Where do you stand vis-a-vis your direct competition? What can you offer that they don’t?

(2) Know your goals. Do you know your intermediate and final goals? Do you have realistic, idealistic, or pessimistic expectations for your company? How do you plan to overcome negative expectations/concerns to achieve your company goal? What is your POA?

(3) Know your budget. What financial resources do you have at your disposal? What superfluous elements are weighing your company down? What public and private sector organizations are willing to help you get started?

(4) Know your pitch. What is your business model? What is the formula being applied to your company analytics? What angle will you use to appeal to new talent? What is the need/reason for change? What milestones for success are in place?

(5) Know your weaknesses. Where are the gaps in your advisory/administrative team? Where are the gaps in talent? Are you overcompensating in one area to make up for a gap that is keeping you from achieving success?

(6) Know your strengths. Are you aware of your team’s strengths? Do you use them to their full potential, being attentive to balance them out in a manner that will lead to long-term success rather than short-term show-boating?

(7) Know who you need to hire, fire, or “trade.” Are you focusing on meeting your bottom line or are you only aiming to fill a pre-existing position? Have you considered reassigning tasks to build a stronger team?

(8) Know how to manage and inspire. Do you understand the principles of management and know how to inspire the loyalty of your team? Do you know the hierarchy of your organization (who you report to and who reports to you)?

(9) Know yourself. Are you disciplined enough to run a company, to ignore bad advice and naysayers, to take responsibility for risky moves with “long-shot” odds that may or may not lead your company to success, to accept success and defeat as they come?

(10) Know how to recognize bad advice. Who are your advisors? Are they up to date with policies and protocols for your profession? Do they share and have confidence in your vision? Do they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed/fail? What types of actions are they promoting? Are these actions conducive to the success of your new vision for the company? Regardless of whether they agree with you, do they have the company’s best interest at heart? Do they strengthen or demean your authority?

Identifying your answers to these questions is a good first step to generating a clearer perspective of your company’s needs and goals and in determining whether you are prepared to run a particular business venture.

Recommended Reading:
Business MoneyballDoes “Moneyball” Theory Influence Management Styles? HR’s SabermetricsHow Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management? Sabermetrics.