Could you Reinvent Yourself?

I’m not a big St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, but as the National League team in my home state and relatives (including my son) that are fans I have at least a passing interest in the team.

*side note – one of my favorite baseball memories is witnessing the 1985 World Series as a college Freshman in Columbia Missouri, halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis.  The campus was crazy during the whole series…

Anyway, I brought the Cardinals up because of the latest update in the Rick Ankiel saga (it should be made into a TV movie).

For those of you that don’t know who Rick Ankiel is, he was the real life version of ‘Wild Thing’ (from Major League – Wild Thing, you make my heart sing, you walk everything!)

The hard-throwing lefty won 11 games and struck out 194 in 175 innings as a 20-year-old rookie in 2000 and was a surprise pick to start the Cardinals’ postseason opener that season against Atlanta. But he became the first major league pitcher to throw five wild pitches in one inning since 1890.

Ankiel threw nine wild pitches in four innings during the 2000 playoffs and never really was the same after that.

Nine wild pitches in 4 innings…that’s amazing.  Ankiel burned bright (albeit for a very short time) and then presumably faded away like so many other players do in the big leagues (for example, most of the Royals roster from the last 3 years…).  😉

But his story wasn’t over.  After fighting injuries and failure as a pitcher, he switched to an outfield position in 2005 and returned to the Major Leagues today – 6 years after blowing up (in a bad way).  He hit a home run in his 3rd at bat…after hitting 32 home runs in the minors this year.  He’s a power hitting outfielder.

Rick Ankiel reinvented himself.  That’s an amazing turn-around and pretty inspirational.

So what does this have to do with your business?  According to SBA statistics, about 56% of businesses fail within the first 4 years of existence (Greg Balanko-Dickson does a great job of clarifying this confusing statistic Here).  Are you at risk of falling into that category?  Obviously completely reinventing your business is pretty unlikely, but it’s not a stretch to think that you could reinvent parts of your business that aren’t working and make a significant positive difference in your success as an outcome.
In E-Myth-Mastery Michael Gerber talks about the process of improvement and the essential skill of Innovation.  World Class companies are constantly improving and innovating aspects of their business that are lagging or holding them back.

In other words, World Class businesses are reinventing parts of their business all the time.  Here’s a quick summary of the process of improvement:

  1. Select the aspect of your business you wish to improve.
  2. Determine what your current process is for that aspect.  If you don’t have a current process, create one.
  3. Quantify the effectiveness of the current process.
  4. Analyze the process for assumed weak points and change 1 of those weak points (but only 1).
  5. Test the updated process.
  6. Quantify the results of your test.
  7. If the results are positive, implement the new process and start all over with some other aspect.  If they aren’t an improvement, the go back to step 4 and change another of the assumed weak points and repeat.

Obviously this is much easier said than done, but if you approach it with this kind of rigor, you can reinvent your business, one aspect at a time.

It may not be as dramatic as the Rick Ankiel story, but it’s a lot more likely to succeed and keep you moving forward (which is the whole point…).

What aspect of your business could you reinvent?  As a starting point, could you identify the 1 or 2 biggest things that are slowing you down or holding you back?

Go get ’em Wild Thing!

Shawn Kinkade – Aspire Business Development