For entrepreneurs — and football — it's all about innovation and execution

i2E column: Talent, good coaching and execution lead to success on gridiron and in business.
Published: September 10, 2013
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In Oklahoma this time of year, we are all about football.

I've never seen any stats on this, but I imagine that football players might make pretty good entrepreneurs, because there are so many similarities between the game and entrepreneurship.

It takes talent and good coaching to make a successful football team, and it's no different when it comes to building a startup company. You also need different skills for different times and teams. There is no perfect profile that defines all winning football teams or entrepreneurs.

Both football and company founding are high stakes and milestone driven — benefiting from a steady offense, a concentrated defense, and the occasional “Hail Mary” pass. In each, it's all about outpacing the competition and scoring points on the field or revenue in the marketplace.

Perhaps the greatest similarity is innovation.

It's innovation in the teams' offensive and defensive schemes that makes Oklahoma football so good.

Oklahoma coaches tend to be innovative masters in figuring out how to stay steps ahead of the other team. Barry Switzer didn't pioneer the wishbone offense, but he recognized the potential, perfected it, and OU became the first major team in the country to ride the innovative offense to three national championships.

As football has evolved from a running to a passing game, the wishbone has given way to new types of innovation. Mike Gundy is running the most difficult-to-defend offense in the country — always adjusting OSU's decoying and feinting, and creating matchups that put defenses in a bad position. Nobody has been able to figure out how to stop it consistently. For the first time in its history, OSU was rated ahead of OU in the preseason polls, and it's innovation that's driven it there.

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DID YOU KNOW?

In 2012, 56 percent of Americans believed that they had the capabilities to start a business, one-third higher than the average among the world's 24 innovation-driven economies.

Source: 2012 GEM Report

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