There are thousands of books on freelancing, and some of them are quite valuable. But sometimes the most powerful teaching can come from books not written for the freelance audience. With the DoNanza Book Club, we are profiling some of the many books that people read merely for the pleasure, but offer valuable lessons in life and business. This week, Moneyball.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Disguised as a true story about baseball, Moneyball may be the “best book ever written about business,” according to The Weekly Standard. The challenge facing Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is one that many freelancers recognize: How do you compete against rivals who have higher profiles and more resources than you do? According to Lewis, Beane approached this by understanding conventional wisdom and tacking in the opposite direction. By reconfiguring the methodologies behind player valuation, Beane developed new tactics for recruiting, coaching and mentoring both young players and older players who were passed by or let go by other teams.
The book isn’t simply about the business of baseball. Beane’s strategies and philosophies, his unconventional tactics and the belief in his processes can easily be incorporated into the business plan of any freelancer.
This book, from beginning to end, can be broken down into a multitude of business lessons, but here are my two favorite that transcend baseball and cross over into the freelance world.
Billy Beane wouldn’t have led the A’s to success by spending what little money he had on one or two big name players. It was his off-the-wall, long-term strategy of recruiting and nurturing the crop of up-and-comers through the club’s farm system and revolutionizing the way player’s strengths were evaluated that allowed the A’s to be competitive despite budgetary hurdles. His theory was to buy wins, rather than players. He understood the bigger picture and realized immediate satisfaction is sometimes sacrificed for the good of the goal.
Freelancers often find themselves trapped, working on projects simply for the paycheck, winning the bid simply for the sake of winning it. Seeing a clear vision of the future is just as essential in freelance.
Sometimes, it’s the little wins that keep us in the game. But, each baby step must be part of the greater picture; otherwise you remain on a treadmill, stuck in rut of complacency just simply working for the paycheck. It’s a process that ultimately leads to success.
“If you’ve got a dozen pitchers, you need to speak 12 different languages”
Replace the word pitcher with customer and you have a strategy that every freelancer should be incorporating into their business plan. Each and every customer speaks a different “language” and your business model should be customer focused. Nothing should be stock or at the very least everything you do should be customizable based upon the preferences, style and voice of the customer. When you fail to speak their language, you fail to communicate, and regardless of the product or service you offer, you fail meet the needs of your client. Thus, striking out, and stalling you’re game plan, leaving you questioning what went wrong.
Being customer centric allows you to remain competitive in an otherwise over-saturated market of freelancers and big-name corporations. Not many large companies can truly say they tailor their business plans to each and every client.
Moneyball is not just for the baseball fan. It’s for the freelancer who needs to find inspiration from an uncommon source, all while enjoying a great story.
Let us know your thoughts on Moneyball, Billy Beane and his Oakland A’s. What were your favorite takeaways?
Next up in the DoNanaza Book Club: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. We’d love to hear from you what books you’d like to see as part of the Donanza Book Club. If you’ve got any suggestion, let us know!