The pressure to win and maintain a #1 ranking in golf is the exact same pressure you feel in a startup. Like a startup business, there are different areas of the golf game in which you excel and those areas where you are weak. These include driving, approach shots, sand traps, chipping and putting. These are the obvious areas but do not include subtle sub-areas like hitting low shots (to avoid the wind) or curving shots (right to left and left to right) to fight winds and weather. Every day, when practicing, you work on all aspects of your game but spend extra time on your weaker areas.
There are team issues as well as golfers work with a swing coach, a business, legal or financial consultant, a travel coordinator, a sports psychologist and their caddy who serves any number of roles like a mentor, advisor and co-founder. As the CEO of their business (touring professional golfer), they must exert leadership qualities that keep their staff on the same page, create a positive working environment, and makes changes when employees' performance does not match expectations.
Lastly, there are costs associated with a golfers entrance onto the tour including travel, salaries for the staff and of course their own salary, which are sometimes supported by investors. Sound familiar?
Startup businesses have the same characteristics in terms of sales, marketing, product development, manufacturing, finance and legal. Like a top golfer, the CEO has pressures to work and balance all aspects of the business. CEO's are likely to have weaker areas and have intense pressure to either learn those aspects or find others to fill that void. In the formative stages of your startup, you typically cannot afford to find others so you fill in and teach yourself marketing or finance until the company gets off the ground.
The parallels get even stronger when you examine the underlying pressure of a golfer/CEO to win every week in order to build the business to a top position. To achieve a top 10 tour position you must execute your game virtually every week for many weeks. To get your startup off the ground you must make serious progress every week for many weeks in order to become relevant and put your company in a position to generate revenue, acquire customers, or launch product.
So are there lessons from the world's #1 golfer, Jason Day that can be applied to your startup journey?
The Wall Street Journal published an article recently titled Jason Day's Key to Golf Domination: Play Less Golf. And, herein lies a lesson for all of us startup founders. In many circumstances, less is more. You see, maintaining golf's #1 position is a grind mentally and physically. With more success comes more pressure. In order to keep his focus and compete he has taken time off mid season and in between seasons. No top 20 golfer has taken off more time than Mr. Day over the past year.
As a startup CEO or founder, have you picked your moments to decompress and recharge? Have you been grinding it out 7 days a week for months now? Do you really think you are operating at your optimal level? Try channeling a little Jason Day and take some time off and maybe, just maybe, you will get more from less.