Web Business Lessons Learned From a Basketball Player

porter.jpgIn honor of my team advancing from the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to the Elite 8 to take on defending national champion Florida, I thought I’d tell the story of Tajuan Porter and see what we can learn from it as it relates to running a web business.

Tajuan Porter is a 5-foot 6-inch freshman who plays for the Oregon Ducks. This is obscenely short for college basketball standards, as there are only a couple of players in the entire country who are that small, and they usually don’t have much success.

Porter was successful in high school, but college coaches who saw him chose not to offer him scholarships due to his height and figured he couldn’t succeed at the high college level. Ernie Kent, coach of the Oregon Ducks, saw something special in Porter and was the only major-conference school to offer him a scholarship. Oregon fans and players figured Porter was a backup plan who wouldn’t make much of an impact at Oregon.

When thinking about starting a website or blog, you may have something that’s standing in the way of your success. Perhaps it’s not knowing much about the web, perhaps it’s a lack of time, perhaps it’s a lack of money to get it started, perhaps it’s a lack of technology skill, or perhaps people just think you’re crazy. Your friends, coworkers, or family may be saying things about you like people were saying about Porter. That you just can’t get it done for whatever reason. Are you going to let people be right? Or are you going to focus on improving in every area you can to get it done?

When Porter arrived in the summer before basketball season tipped off, the players saw Porter and like everyone else figured his height would keep him from succeeding.

What players, fans, and other college coaches didn’t realize was that instead of letting people tell Porter what he couldn’t do because of his size, he chose not to dwell on what he couldn’t change and instead develop skills and abilities that would allow him to actually succeed.

Porter started the first game of the year for the Ducks, and scored 28 pts, an amazing amount for a freshman in his first college game. Many thought it was a fluke until in the next two games he scored 27 pts and then set an Oregon freshman record by scoring 38 pts and hitting 10 three-point shots.

You’d think everyone would have immediately started to believe in Porter at this point. But again, people pointed out that the teams Oregon was playing weren’t very good, and that Porter was just lucky that weekend.

Sure enough, Porter cooled off after injurying his toe but continued to play with the pain. He had some games where he didn’t play that well, and fans and local media began to question his defense and wonder if he was hurting the team by being out on the floor if he wasn’t scoring like he was before.

Some websites and blogs get off to a great start like Porter did, but then hit a down period where the buzz cools off and time gets tough. People start to question whether you can do it, whether you’re on the right path, and if you can make it happen. Businesses don’t just rise on a steady growth path. There are peaks and valleys, and the valleys may really test you.

As the end of the regular season came around Porter got over his injury and started scoring and playing like he did at the beginning of the year. He was the MVP of the Pac-10 tournament the Ducks won. Now in the NCAA tournament he shot the Ducks through the 2nd round by hitting 4 three-ponit shots in the 2nd half, and then followed it up by tying a record with hitting 8 three-point shots and scoring 33 pts against UNLV to advance to the Elite 8. Now he’s not only playing well, he’s totally overcome his height disadvantage and is simply dominating the competition. The reward? He now gets to play defending champion Florida to go to the Final Four. How is Porter going to react going up against possibly the best team in the country on the biggest stage?

The comparison for a web business is that when you do fight through your weaknesses and achieve solid to great success, sometimes your reward is that you get to take on the big dog, such as Google, or Yahoo, or Microsoft. Or on a smaller level, once your blog achieves great success in your niche, perhaps you’re now competing with the biggest blog in your space. You may feel like it’s a battle that can’t be won. Are you going to give up?

Really, it’s a classic story, but it’s one of the reasons I enjoy the entertainment and stories in sports. You get to witness how people react in various situations, and Porter’s story has been fun and motivating to follow. The 5-6 underdog has used his weakness to grow his skills in other areas and build up such a strong heart and build his confidence to the point of playing like one of the best in the country. It doesn’t seem possible, but he’s doing it. Congratulations Porter, and let’s hope that we can all fight through the weaknesses in our websites and blogs to become big successes as well.

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