Never give up! The race isn’t over until it’s over

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One of the great come-back stories of all time happened recently, but not too many people know about it. Stay with me small business owners, you’re going to like this story.

The world’s oldest trophy in international sports is a yacht race called the America’s Cup, dating to 1851. The 34th America’s Cup was contested recently between the defender, Oracle Team USA (Golden Gate Yacht Club) and the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron). The 162 year-old America’s Cup trophy goes to the first team to post nine race wins over the period of approximately three weeks.

When the competition began in San Francisco Bay September 7, the U.S. team was already in the hole. Due to a previous violation, Oracle Team USA was penalized two points (races), to be applied to their next race. Since the America’s Cup was the next one, the two teams launched their boats for the opening contest with the Kiwis zero and the Yanks -2. Yes, that meant the U.S. team had to win 11 races before the team from down under got to nine.


Small business owners know how the U.S. team must have felt; we’re no strangers to the marketplace equivalent of starting from less than zero before we launch. Like opening up one morning expecting a great day, only to be met with a major customer defection on top of an unexpected expense, both creating a cash flow crisis and a call to, or worse, from the bank. Indeed, the question is not whether a small business will find itself up against seemingly impossible odds, but rather how well the owner will handle the next time.

Back to the race: By September 18, the Kiwis were running away with America’s Cup 2013, amassing an eight-to-one lead. The Yanks actually won races four, eight, and nine, but due to the penalty, only got credit for the ninth race. What happened next is now part of sporting legend and an inspiration to every underdog and small business owner. From September 19-25, the U.S. team shutout the challenger in the next eight races to retain the America’s Cup, 9 to 8. Even the determined, world-class Kiwis took 11 races to win eight points in the early going.

Most small business owners don’t relate to the elite world of yacht racing. But we do relate to long odds. You don’t last long in small business if you don’t subscribe to the profound wisdom of that great sports philosopher, Yogi Berra, who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Even when the fat lady starts warming up her voice in your general direction, never give up. Never give up.

Write this on a rock …Even when you’re in the hole before you launch, as long as the race isn’t over, you can still win.

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Jim Blasingame is one of the world's leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate® Show.  In addition to his weekly columns, Jim is the author of two books; Small Business is like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Small Business

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