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The Most Likely Way to Make Big League Money in Business

February 14th, 2018

By Luke Melms

We’ve finally made it to another baseball season with players beginning to report to Spring Training this week. For some, the dream continues on the field. For others, this may be a season of figuring out how to create a new dream.

This week I want to specifically talk to any former players who are in business. One of the most common conversations I’ve had with fellow former players is trying to figuring out where to start and know where they are ultimately heading in business. Baseball is easier to know where to begin. We have bases that get run in a specific order, an order in which the journey progresses from college to pro ball and specific positions on the field.

Let’s try to simplify this by using a baseball analogy. Why do big leaguers get paid big bucks and how does this translates over to business? Simply put there are only 750 guys across the entire world on 25 man rosters at any given time. Few can play the game at a level which produces results that leads to wins and also brings high levels of eyeballs whether it be live or on TV. These are the two main revenue sources for any club. Without the players, a baseball organization is just an empty shell.

Let’s take a look at the three different players on the business field at all times.

  1. Revenue generators

Think about a dentist, CPA, or a medical device salesman….many are paid handsomely for the work they do. Why? It is a highly specialized skill that takes an extensive amount of training and hands on work perfecting their craft working directly with the end user to solve the problem or provide the service needed. Without these people the business isn’t a business. Revenue to business is what runs are to baseball. These are the everyday starters and is where big league money is more likely to be made on the business field because they are generating the lifeblood for any business.

  1. Revenue retainers 

These individuals don’t directly provide the service that generates revenue but still have interaction with clients. Similar to the climb from the minors to the big leagues, this may be a training ground before becoming a revenue generator depending on the industry. Think of these individuals as late inning relievers because their job is to hold onto what already exists. In baseball it is a lead and in business it is clients. This type of role is key as a business would not grow if it were constantly bringing in new business only to have its existing business leaving to never return again.

  1. Non-client facing 

These individuals do not have necessarily have any interaction before, during or after the client/customer engagement process. However they play a key role in operationally supporting the business. Moving up the ladder may mean being able to support multiple areas or people. Similar to a utility player, there is much valuable felt by the business from these types of contributors as they are versatile. Often utility players can play above average defense. In business, there coincides with not letting dollars leak out through lawsuits or operational inefficiencies as two examples which are both very important. Don’t believe that working directly with clients is the only way to make big bucks. Executives paths such as Chief Compliance Officer or Chief Operating Officer are few examples of highly compensated non-client facing opportunities. Unlike revenue generators where there are several starting positions available, each team usually has one or maybe two utility guys. Businesses don’t have more than one COO. All this means is that this path may take more time to reach the top.

Just as a baseball team uses all the guys on a roster, so too does a business rely on all three of the types described above. There’s no right or wrong spot on the field. The key is recognizing where your natural strengths align and making sure you are playing in a position which you can excel at. Of course being a starting pitcher may pay more but if you only have two great pitches success may be hard to come by. You have to put yourself in a position where you can succeed above everything else.

I’ve learned from my own journey that chasing money is not sustainable. Find something you love, commit to becoming an expert at your craft and follow through by investing everyday to learn something new while getting 1% better. Over a long period of time these will yield results that most are unable of achieving. Our biggest advantage as baseball players is the willingness and proven track record of being able to commit to the grind for years. Don’t underestimate what you carry. As my college coach always said, “Little things become big things.”

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