New research suggests that adopting the mindset of a boxer could help small businesses to survive.
Academics at Goldsmiths University of London found that adopting the defence and attack strategy of a boxer could help entrepreneurs to adjust to the early days of starting a new business.
The research was based on the analysis of 49 diaries written by small business owners during the first eight weeks of the first Lockdown last March, which drew parallels with the tactics employed by boxers.
The team found that during the first month the business owners focused on defending their business. By the second month they switched their focus to recovery, using a mix of reactive, defensive and proactive moves.
The study grouped entrepreneurs’ responses into four boxing-related themes and tactics:
-Checking vitals: in this case monitoring business functioning over lockdown, such as financial, human and physical damages.
-Blocking: during the Lockdown this involved employing quick defensive moves to absorb damages and avoid physical risks, such as closing businesses immediately to protect workers and staff.
-Deflecting: employing tactics such as emotion regulation, mobilising resources from networks, and using the crisis to adjust and hit back.
-Developing tactical awareness: this involved working out how Covid-19 regulations might change and adapting accordingly, such extending outside premises in the case of the hospitality industry.
Each theme demonstrated the approach by the business owners to go the distance, just like in a boxing match, and avoid being knocked out by the pandemic.
The parallel with boxing tactics was discovered by Dr Rachel Doern, a business lecturer at Goldsmiths, after reading the diaries of the business owners.
Dr Doern said:
In an unfolding crisis, a boxer’s mindset involves acting quickly while taking stock of damages and responses and assessing where things stand. It’s about reflecting on how a crisis is evolving and the implications for the business, thinking about where things might be going and where one needs to be.
It’s also about accepting the need for short-term planning, engaging in the practice of trialling plans, and managing expectations around what is possible given the challenges at present and ahead.