Why Arsenal Football Club is my Model for Business Success

Let me say in the very first sentence of this piece that I am an  unapologetic fan of Arsenal Football Club.  Now that we’ve taken my bias out of the way let me tell you the fact that makes that club my model for sustained long-term success in a challenging and very competitive (business) League.


Of course we have to start by congratulating Leicester City Football Club on winning the Premier League in 2016.  I saw a list of the clubs that have won the Premier League in the last 20 years and of course Manchester United dominated lots of those years under  Sir Alex Ferguson,  Chelsea was about the next dominant Force and then Arsenal and Manchester City.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.

So many people who in life and in business prioritize winning; and by winning I mean at the very front, being the top most, the most successful,  then probably Manchester United will be your cup of tea. However when I think in terms of success I see that 2013  and the end of the Ferguson era has been the last time United ever matched it’s performances of usually been the first or second in the league and they even dropped down to 7th at a time, I wonder.  

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.  Manchester City is the new kid on the block,  the jury is still out on the team that will be led by the world’s most expensive coach in the next season. Arsenal however has stayed between the 1st and 4th positions consistently  for 20 years. In my technical field of quality assurance, we will say that it has been the club with the least process variation or the one with the most precision.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.  Not the boom and burst of Chelsea,  unsecured leadership transition of Manchester United,  and the sudden artificial financial boom that currently makes Manchester City a competitive club, let’s hope the oil price does not affect the Sheikh’s ability to pump money into the club..


Football aside,  I choose the  Pursuit of consistent, replicable, sustainable success  over any kind of boom and burst  wins.  While the road to initial success in business is hard and actually breaks many,  even at that stage (of starting and building) one needs to set up and position oneself for long-term success,  such that 20, 30,  40 years from now,  the business exists and and it’s sustained and perhaps has the potential to outlive its founders.  When you are in it for such a long run as  I am describing,  you think differently, you plan differently,  you seek long-term wins,  long term relationships,  sustainable business models.  You may not be the first,  but you will be at the top end of the game for a long long time.

Back to football,  I am cross with  Arsene Wenger,  Arsenal need to be back winning the league.


Why Start up Businesses Fail? Top 3 reasons from 3 top business mentors

I asked 3 leading start-up business mentors to tell me the top 3 reasons why they think start-up businesses fail.  I will straight away give you the reasons provided by each mentor,  as I haven’t however requested permission to identify them as the providers of this information I will simply identify them as Mentors A, B and C, note that between them, these mentors have over 40 years of mentoring experience. Fasten your seat belts.

Mentor A –

  • Lack of Planning
  • Lack of Passion and Drive
  • Lack of Experience

Mentor B-

  • Lack of planning
  • Lack of resources (not just financial)
  • Lack of persistence

Mentor C-

  • Poorly thought through decision to leave employment and get into business
  • No written business plan or financial projections
  • Unprofitable pricing structure (You need to calculate your break-even price and NEVER charge below this)

I am amazed at the common trend of ‘planning’, otherwise known as business planning or in it’s most simplistic format, a simple business plan is on thread that cuts across

I am amazed at the common trend of ‘planning’, otherwise known as business planning or in it’s most simplistic format, a simple business plan is on thread that cuts across. And I know how many aspiring business people might not generally like what they consider paperwork; but hey, that is the reason why several of the folks who have tried before us failed.

I have a documented business plan, but following this feedback, I will surely be reviewing it a lot more regularly than I do. Your business plan need not be war and peace, it could just be a 3 page document- it is quality over quantity that matters in a business plan.

Some guy named Osterwalder, created some nine building blocks of what is required for your business  or planned business to function, I have copied it down below for your attention courtesy http://www.entrepreneurmag.co.za/

Create a one page document that answers these questions in as much detail and as thoroughly thought through as you can, you will have your first business plan in place, no matter how crude. All the best!20151102_120501

9 Building Blocks of a Business Plan

  1. Customer Segments: Who are your mass and niche markets?
  2. Value Proposition: What are you offering and why are you different?
  3. Channels: Look at the phases your product goes through. This is everything from awareness and distribution to after-sales service.
  4. Customer Relationships: How are you building relationships with customers and is it working?
  5. Revenue Streams: Look at what you are charging and if you could be charging more. How are you receiving your payments and does it contribute enough to overall revenue?
  6. Key Resources: What resources do you require to function? These can include physical, human, financial and intellectual.
  7. Key Activities: Ask yourself what activities need to take place in order to deliver on your value proposition?
  8. Key Partnerships: Write down who your key suppliers and partners are and how they contribute to your overall goals.
  9. Cost Structure: Look at fixed and variable costs so that you can see what can be improved upon.

Measure Yourself with the Best

“Like beget like” Anon


I had one of the top results within the school when I graduated from my primary school, I thought I was good, until the results of the first class test in my new secondary school were released. I was shocked, my performance was only average. Where did it all go wrong? Apparently it was the best pupils from various primary schools that made up my new class. Thereafter, my confidence to perform in the class was understandably low; it didn’t help either when I discovered that my scores from the Common Entrance Examination was not even in the top 20 percentile of my new class.

In that class, there was a guy that sat at the desk beside me, I heard him “attempt” to speak English – it was terrible! I assured myself that there was at least one person I would do better than, I wouldn’t be bottom of the class, or so I thought! How wrong I was. Though he performed poorly in English language, at the end of the first term Femi (not real name) was in third place in the class standing. I, on the other hand, was lost somewhere in the middle positions in my 40 member class.

Take a look at my thought pattern, learn from my mistake. Why measure yourself against the supposed worst why not the best?! Do not search out the worst student to measure yourself up against in a new class, look for the best. Find the ‘best guy’ in the class and beat him to the top spot. When you make such positive assessments you can only improve, if you take the other option you will constantly perform below your potential.

The best is where you ought to be.

A wise person once said there is a lot of space at the top; it’s only the bottom that is crowded. Aim for the top, your space is waiting to be filled.

During my undergraduate days, in the second year, I remember fellow classmates agreeing that we needed to set up tutorial classes, the obvious high performers in the class were selected as tutorial leaders to lead the tutorial classes in the various courses that made up the programme. There was one slot unassigned, one course that needed a tutor, with a little encouragement from my friends I offered myself up to lead that tutorial class, and everyone was ok with it, but I sensed that there was some reservations.

Being a tutor was a good experience but led to some of the most demanding days of my university experience as I realised in a short while that I had to be ‘up to scratch’ with my knowledge of the course I led; people started asking me questions on the course at just about any time of the day, this meant I had to always be prepared if I did not want to be embarrassed or disappoint any of my friends.

I began sitting in on the other tutorial classes, though some of them were as good as hearing the lecture a second time over (which is a very profitable task in itself), there was also the added advantage that I could stop that ‘lecturer’ at anytime and ask all my stupid questions.

As I write today, I have a copy of my undergraduate transcript and as I look at the grade were B’s I obtained in that year. This might not sound very impressive to you until you realise that my first year was a near academic disaster and all the (over) confidence I had imported into university (based on my Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) results of 6 distinctions and 3 credits) was at an all time low!

By following the example of the ‘best guys’, I got results the ‘best guys’ got! What my classmates and I did not realise at the time was that by giving the top guys those responsibilities we made them even better, and if we had dared take up the same responsibilities, tackle the same problems, deliver at the same level, we would have ultimately achieved the same outcome and get the same results!

I learnt this principle, I proved it, and my second year was one of the best of my undergraduate years!

image credit- http://goo.gl/WRHCqs