As a Denver-based startup, we are avid supporters of the Broncos. Sunday’s game was a nail-biter right up until the end. However, the roller coaster sensation is one that feels familiar to many entrepreneurs. It’s a life we live daily in the startup world. One day we overcome a huge milestone, the next a VC pulls from our funding round. As we head into 2016, we’re taking some lessons from the AFC Championship game with us.
Here are four things startups can learn from the AFC Championship Game.
1) When everybody bets against you, bet on yourself
According to popular opinion, the Broncos were the underdog by a long-shot. Las Vegas had 6-1 odds on New England prior to Sunday’s game. But Denver wasn’t phased by the odds. After all, everything is ultimately decided on the field. As a startup in a relatively new space, we face constant rejection. For every fan of P2Bi, we’ve got a dozen people on the sidelines betting we won’t make it. They’ve got good reason to doubt given that 90% of startups fail. But we should remind ourselves that it all happens out on the field. Even though the odds seem to be against us, only we can determine the final score.
2) Starting up is a team sport
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Manning said to the cameras that their win was due to the simple fact that every player stepped up and did what was needed of them. Whether it was Sanders who rose to the occasion this week and caught two important passes—one being that impressive 3rd and long— or Owen Daniels with his beautiful touchdowns, everybody played their part. In startupland, there generally aren’t enough people to accomplish everything that needs to be done. “Other duties as required” takes on a whole new meaning and employees are often called on to cover areas that have been deemed priority but aren’t necessarily a part of their job description. Like Manning with his 12 yard run, we must often go above and beyond to score the point.
3) The best offense is sometimes a good defense
Von Miller led an incredible defense all year that was key to Sunday’s victory. NFL Editor Gregg Rosenthal said earlier in the season, “There isn’t a team east of Seattle that has more talent and aggression at every level of their defense.” At P2Bi, a huge part of our defense is our underwriting team. They work hard to make sure that every client we take on will be a good long-term business partner for P2Bi. No matter what kind of company you have, you’ve got a defense. It’s a startup’s job to make sure that their team is well rounded in this regard. If you can’t deliver on what your sales and marketing teams are promising, you won’t be in the game very long.
4) Thank your opponents: they make sure you earned it
One reason we love Peyton is that he is always an incredibly gracious winner. After the game, we all saw his heartfelt conversation with Tom Brady congratulating him on a job well done. In business, you’ve got to remember to thank the people who put you through the ringer along the way. Facing their challenges makes you and your business stronger. That VC who didn’t fund you back in the day might have been the reason you doubled down and set yourself up for later success. We lost a customer early on and were inspired to make our product even better. Every challenge you face along the startup journey makes victory that much sweeter.
Congrats to both teams for a killer game on Sunday! Go Broncos!