Not many people know the names Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard but if you’re a business owner they’re worth knowing about.
A hundred years ago these two boxers got in the ring for one of the biggest David and Goliath boxing matches in history. Jack Dempsey, weighing in at 85kgs, was facing up against Jess Willard at 111kgs. All bets were on Willard and it was obvious why. But what happened in the first round of the match alone stunned the audience.
One minute into round one, Dempsey landed a series of blows to Willard’s body followed by a left hook that all but caved in the right side of Willard’s face. In 1919, a fighter who knocked an opponent down could stand over him and attack as soon as his opponent’s knee left the canvas. Dempsey downed Willard seven times in the first round, smashing him to the canvas again and again while the champion was in the process of rising but not yet ready to defend himself. Willard suffered a horrible beating and was unable to answer the bell for round four.
Everybody loves an underdog story like this – it is a great sporting memory. It’s one entrepreneurs and business owners might understand more than most because they’ve decided to get in the metaphorical ‘business ring’ and take on the critics.
If you’re one of those small business owners that have bravely climbed into the ring and taken on the challenge of running your own business, here are a few things Dempsey’s victory can teach you.
According to boxing experts, what made Dempsey different to Willard was a fresh approach to boxing style and technique. He was fast on his feet, kept his head tucked away and pounced around his opponent – moving fast and jabbing quickly. Willard on the other hand was what we’d call ‘old school’. He stood straight and tall, moved slowly and relied on his advantage in height and weight.
However, Dempsey’s agility and adaptability gave him the biggest upper hand. He kept moving, he hustled, got the job done and pivoted as needed. As any entrepreneur worth their salt will know, change happens quickly in a business and you have to be able to adapt and move quickly in order to make opportunities for yourself. If you rest on your laurels you’ve lost the fight. As long as you’re hustling you’re heading in the right direction.
The fight isn’t only won in the ring
Jack Dempsey was familiar with hard work and hard labour as a man. And when it came to training he honed his body with countless hours of gymnasium training, sparring and skipping. He prepared himself for the demands of the sport. Dempsey knew preparation outside of the ring was what helped win fights.
Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie can be a good starting point to know what muscles need some extra flexing. It may mean getting a mentor as your coach, or drawing on the expertise of experienced business owners. There are a lot of ‘training grounds’ out there for business owners, you just need to find what you need training in.
Not every knock down is a knock out
This is probably one of the hardest realities to face as a business owner. Failure. Nobody likes it and it leaves you feeling vulnerable and exposed. The thing to remember is that a knock down is very different from a knock out.
What you’ll learn in time (if you haven’t already) is that failure is inevitable but it is also invaluable. In life some of the biggest lessons and greatest successes will come from the greatest failures. Why? Well because failure allows you to make a choice – you stay down or to get up and fight. Getting up after you’ve been knocked down… that’s where the true measure of success, character and grit are found.
Make sure you have people in your corner
Every boxer has a team in their corner spurring them on. These are the people that help them wipe the sweat and tears away, who reminding them of their strength and determination, who encourage them on the sidelines and route for them.
Not every man is an island, and in order to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to surround yourself with a team that’s going to keep you focused, motivated and energized. You need people (whether that’s family, friends, colleagues, mentors or coaches) who believe in you.
At Retail Capital we think SMEs are a big deal. That’s why we’re always in your corner. We’re committed to business owners who are in the ring, training, sparring, getting knocked down, rising and overcoming challenges. We’re here to support you with one of the biggest challenges you’ll face – small business funding. Find out how we can help you grow your business and keep you moving forward.