Lessons on entrepreneurship from the Blitzboks

The Springbok Sevens defeated Australia 10-7 in a thrilling Sevens World Series final in Dubai last Saturday.

The Blitzboks have set a few records with this achievement. They stretched their impressive winning run to 24 matches on their way to a ninth overall title success in Dubai.

Interestingly, they are not the biggest in physique on the circuit. Yet they just click as a team and have been consistently winning tournaments.

Here are five characteristics that they shine in, and I would like to think these may also be emulated in entrepreneurs:

● Agility

It is remarkable to have SA ranked number 1 in both forms of the game.

Yet the Sevens version requires rapid responses to the game as it unfolds before you. After all, the entire game lasts 14 minutes, versus 80 minutes in the longer version. The team must be quick in response and in its actual pace. Failing to adjust quickly can see a team trailing by 21 points within five minutes.

“I think a good entrepreneur has a very clear grasp of what the goal is, an unwavering sense of the goal, an utterly agile approach of getting there” − John Katzman.

Entrepreneurs respond rapidly to the game before them.

● Fitness

It sounds easy to play for 14 minutes but remember this is almost at sprinting speed all the time.

In addition, the last two tournaments were held in Dubai, where the daytime temperatures and humidity combine to make a very tough demand on any athlete. Exceptional fitness is mandatory and not optional. In a similar way, entrepreneurs need to constantly focus on their “fitness levels”, in terms of the horse and the jockey.

Approaching the entrepreneurial journey with a mediocre “fitness” level could be disastrous.

Be the ones that work smart, hard… consistently.

● Resilience

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness.

As a team, the Blitzboks faced injuries with no way of “flying in replacements” due to Covid-19.

That meant the team had less rotation opportunity, and that players had to play longer throughout the tournament.

In addition, Ronald Brown faced a personal battle when diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019.

His story of courage and resilience in returning to the Sevens circuit is inspiring.

Entrepreneurs too, must dig deep, uncover grit, and keep moving forward. As Martin Luther King says, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

● Consistency

It is an extraordinary record that the SA team has not lost one game across 24 matches − this is a new world record.

How is it possible in facing so many different opponents, in different environments, that the Sevens team can do so well? It is consistency.

Their coach, Neil Powell, harnesses their different strengths in a team that delivers week in and week out.

“Do it again and again. Consistency makes the raindrops to create holes in the rock. Whatever is difficult can be done easily with regular attendance, attention and action” − Israelmore Ayivor.

Entrepreneurs build a championship routine and deliver on it… with consistency.

● Mindset

“Some people thought we were only here to survive, but we came here to thrive…” − HSBC Player of the Final, JC Pretorius, shows the mindset that propelled the Blitzboks to yet another title in Dubai.

Whenever one of the newbies in the team scores, the entire team runs in and congratulates the player.

They recognise the contribution of individuals in the team to help forge a formidable team. And they celebrate it.

JC Pretorius revealed a little in the mindset embraced when he made the comment on thriving.

Therefore, we see personal development and the entrepreneurial mindset as so important at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator.

Entrepreneurs must have a daily “reset” of mindset to remain poised, opportunity seeking and momentum maintaining.

● Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College.

Contact him on Steve.Reid@falsebay.org.za