When I played basketball in college, I was good at what my coach would call “hanging around the hoop.”
I had a knack for being in the right place at the right time to grab a rebound or make a play.
While my initial goal was to score, sometimes that wasn’t possible. I might have to do other things to set up a teammate for a bucket. Even if I personally didn’t score, getting two points for the team was still a personal victory.
This is a strategy that I think plays as well in business as it does in basketball.
Planning has its place in life, but sometimes events outside of our control put us on different paths than we expected. While I still plan lots of short-term things, I am largely guided by the long-term principal of putting myself in a position to benefit from an action, regardless of whether the original goal comes to fruition.
Business lessons from the basketball court
What does hanging around the right hoop look like in business? That depends on your initial goal and what tangential goals can be achieved around it.
If your initial goal is to hire top talent, getting in the right game may mean going to industry conferences instead of posting a job listing. By attending the conference, you’ll walk away with something, even if it’s not the new engineer you need right now.
Meanwhile, you’ll likely meet a number of good contacts that could benefit your business years from now in various forms – a potential merger, get on the short list to land a big contract, etc.
Put yourself out there and strategically decide where and how is best to do that. This will guarantee a score because you are in a position to be top of mind. This means you’re the first call when someone needs something or has an opportunity.
Hanging around the right hoop
I recently closed an acquisition deal for a company that complements my business because I was hanging around the right hoop. But my story doesn’t start in December of 2016 when the deal closed; instead we need to go back 5+ years.
Around 2011 after much reflection, I realized I enjoyed working in the tech world. Combining that passion with my real estate experience, I launched my current business that combines the two. But I knew that even if the business failed, starting this company would give me more VC contacts. Also it would make me employable by large real estate tech companies. I put myself in a position to win, even if the initial goal wasn’t reached.
Prior to the company we acquired going on the market, I developed a relationship with the CEO and made it clear to key players that I was interested in acquisitions.
I was not thinking of this company, or even this type of company, but the CEO and I realized that we share similar visions for the future of the housing and apartment rental marketplace. So when he was looking for a buyer, he thought of me, and I seized the opportunity and found a way to close the deal.
There is a fine line between this strategy and pure chance, but recognizing the ways to strategically put yourself in the position to benefit from what looks to other people like “pure chance” is the key.
This acquisition set my business up for success down the road, and I got it in part because I was hanging around the hoop.
The right game to get into is one in which you are guaranteed to score.
This article has been edited.
Copley Broer is CEO of RadPad, a marketplace for renters & landlords to find apartments, sign leases, and pay rent, and LandlordStation, an online solutions provider for small and mid-sized landlords and property managers with products including tenant screening, tenant portals, online rent payments, document and data management, and e-signatures. A 15-year veteran of the commercial and multifamily real estate industries, he is a thought leader in the use of technology in real estate. Connect with @LandlordStation on Twitter.
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