Growing up we had a basketball ring at the back of our family home. This came in very handy as we tried to navigate our way through the early days of building our business.
We both found ourselves living there for a period of time during this entrepreneurial journey after moving out of home long before. We would grab a beer (or two) and the basketball and head out the back to shoot some hoops; sometimes spending hours just going over how to approach the different situations we found ourselves in, or our thoughts around recent events. The basketball court became a safe space to throw ideas around, or to talk about possibilities and the ‘what next?’. Sometimes it was also just something to do to escape the grind.
When you do something you’ve never done before there is no rule book, so you rely heavily on gut instinct. In hindsight, your gut is not always going to put you on the fastest track to success, but it will guide the way you operate and the kind of business you will create. It will help you know what’s right for you.
We believe that value is always co-created. This forms the basis of ‘how’ we deal with others and the ‘why’ we always have a collaborative approach. Collaboration in business is the way to create something that will last into the future, no doubt about it. It’s also (I think) likely the most effective way for start-up businesses to gain traction and move forward, particularly when resources are limited. People want real relationships, businesses want value, and for any relationship (or business) to survive requires each party receiving something of value from the other. As the world around us becomes more connected and more distant at the same time, it’s more important than ever to include a relationship element to your business dealings.
I think looking back on those days we’d spend shooting baskets and discussing how to approach a situation, it was the right way for us to build our strategy. I recall a time we were negotiating licensing of our Intellectual Property with large corporates who did not operate in a collaborative manner. They had a ‘take as much as we can’ mentality, and of course ultimately our negotiations fell over. Our visions we not aligned, and when one party tries to take too much from the other, a relationship becomes untenable and fails.
We were operating at an ethical level where we were comfortable, and so could walk away from those dealings with heads held high. We had genuine intent and belief that we could create something that together is greater than the sum of its parts. That is the most important thing, but not everyone will see that.
There’s so much more value to be had by ensuring everyone benefits from an opportunity. If you are developing an idea/ business, remember everyone in the value chain needs to have an interest in making it work. If one link in the chain does not have a benefit, then ultimately that chain will fail. It’s like trying to move something with a chain that has a broken or missing link.
Build your strategy in a way you’re comfortable with and conduct yourself in a manner that works for you. It won’t always work out in every dealing you have because inevitably others will operate on their own comfort level, but that’s ok because that relationship would not have lasted anyway. If you allow yourself to be influenced by people with different standards and values, it will cause even bigger issues down the track.
So, find your ‘basketball court’, go there when you need to escape the grind or go over your approach, and use it as a way to stay true to you.