Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from athletes

Umerah Akram, Head of ELITE UK and International Licensing, London Stock Exchange Group

Entrepreneurs and athletes share a lot in common. A drive to succeed is key to achieving high performance in any field. In sport it’s important for athletes to crunch the stats to understand how to improve performance.

Similarly, effective data analysis is becoming an increasingly significant factor in supporting a company to drive growth.
What are the strengths? What areas need improvement? What tweaks need to be made to achieve ambitions and potential? Scaling up a business can be a daunting task, which is why ELITE – London Stock Exchange Group’s initiative for high growth companies – has launched the Growth Compass to give companies access to meaningful data and analysis to stimulate action.
For example, if a company’s growth is reliant on its people does it have a well-defined strategy for recruiting, supporting and rewarding the talent that it needs? Conversely, if a company primarily relies on outside suppliers to support its expansion, does it have a system to manage the procurement, delivery and payment process?
At ELITE, having worked with over 900 companies across 34 sectors, we know that every business will have a different focus, depending on size, sector and growth goals.
We have found that ultimately a growing business has three key areas of focus to support scale up plans – strategy, people, and financial capital. A business needs to have a clear strategy, a strong value proposition, understand its offering and how it fits into the competitive landscape.
As with sport, business success is a team effort so recruiting, nurturing and retaining talent to help deliver that strategy is critical. And in addition to the right human capital, having the right financial capital is the third major ingredient needed to fuel business growth. Similar to an elite athlete’s focus on nutrition, treating funding as fuel and using it efficiently is key to ensuring a business can go the distance. As a result, strong financial management, as well as matching the right type of funding to business activities is vital to success.
Whilst a company’s priorities may vary depending on business stage, sector and goals, these are the three universal factors we see in supporting business ambition. Other growth drivers such as innovation, governance, operational efficiency, and market orientation ultimately link back to these factors.
ELITE’s Growth Compass tool has been designed to help companies evaluate their current stage and structure against key growth dimensions, helping them to ascertain areas of importance and priority.
The tool looks at internal practices as well as external conditions, enabling an assessment of the key qualitative aspects of growing a business.
It provides an indication of a company’s maturity, benchmarking it against top performing companies, by sector and size. The results aim to provide meaningful analysis and company specificfeedback, enabling companies to devise action plans to help drive growth.
Ultimately, analytics are key to driving growth.
Try the ELITE Growth Compass by visiting www.elite-network.com

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