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Business Challenges: Does Your Business Have An “Achilles Heel”?


Business Challenges: Does Your Business Have An “Achilles Heel”?

I have been a Buffalo Bills fan all my life. (I grew up one town away from the stadium). This is supposed to be the year the Bills win the Super Bowl. But Sunday, Week 9, they lost a tight game again, this time to the tenacious Minnesota Vikings now eight and one.

It’s not that the Bills choked exactly, but they blew a 27-10 lead at the half, losing 33-30 in overtime. They just couldn’t finish the win. They lost in a similar fashion to the Miami Dolphins earlier this year. The Vikings made it loss number 3 for the Bills this season. Mind you, it’s not the number of losses; It’s the WAY they do it that gets to me.

A Telling Statistic

The game announcers showed a revealing statistic during the fourth quarter as Minnesota kept shortening the lead toward the end of the game. Buffalo has only two wins against eight losses in games where they led by eight points or less in the fourth quarter. By comparison, the Vikings were 16 and one in games with eight points or less in the fourth quarter. When Buffalo has a big lead going into the final quarter their confidence is high. They continue to execute well, build a bigger lead and finish games with a score well ahead of the competing team. When the score is close, they choke.

So, what’s up? Fans around the country are pulling for the Bills as the dream team this year. Buffalo has a young, exciting quarterback in Josh Allen. They are recognized as the best offense in football. Yet they have lost three close heartbreaker games this year in the public spotlight.

I’ll leave the detailed sports analysis to Monday morning quarterbacks and the radio sports talk shows to ferret out. But there’s something personally troubling to me in that one stat—now two and nine in tight games.

It seems to be Buffalo’s Achilles heel (it’s weakest spot and the one that makes them vulnerable). And they need to snap out of it.

Confidence is a Habit

My point? As good as Buffalo is, something happens to the team psyche and they fold when the going gets intense. Buffalo has to put its finger on why the statistic 2 and 8 compromises their game. Do they tense up? Do they cave in? Do they give up, not really believe they can win? It was the same scenario at the end of last season in the AFC playoffs with Kansas City Chiefs behind Patrick Mahomes. In a tight one, the Chiefs didn’t blink. Down to the wire in classic games.

This isn’t new. Buffalo has a history of choking. The Bills made four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl under Jim Kelly from 1991 to 1994, losing each contest. Buffalo fans have long lived with this defeated persona. I think it’s what drives Bills fans crazy to this day.

Does Your Business Need a Tuneup?

So what does this have to do with business? How can we apply this idea to our workplaces? Does your business have an Achilles heel? Is there some underlying weak spot that needs to be discussed and changed before it trips you up?

For example, do you pitch work and come up short of the contract too often? In a tight fight with a close competitor, do you win because you are the best and deserve to win? Or do you choke?

Have you created a culture of excellence, of winning? Have you defined it? Trained it? Or do your people give up and go home feeling less than winners?
Like at the end of a football game, does your team push through at the end of the day. Do you all cross the finish line as winners? Do you have that extra grit to stay at it until you win because you’re prepared, practiced, and see yourself succeeding?

If not, how will you as the “head coach” change your team and affect your players as they get ready for the next game, the next business challenge? Are there things in your business that you may not be comfortable facing? With some thought, you can identify it, learn new techniques, then practice until you fix it.

If you’re having trouble identifying your Achilles heel, because it’s painful to fix, you might look at what others have faced in their small businesses. I recommend Traction, a book by Gino Wickman, that covers all the areas of small business and tells how you can fix any problem with the right solution. He identifies six key areas of a business and what you have to shore up to win consistently. We use Traction every day at Corporate Images and would be happy to help you implement it in your business. Give me a call, and we’ll figure out how Traction can help.


I hope these thoughts make you and your business better at winning. I’d like to read your comments. In the meantime, I had better give up watching football. My heart can’t take it.

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Alan Bagg, President, Corporate Images

Alan’s business solutions focus has consistently earned his clients increased sales, profit growth, and a stronger brand. Reach him at 262-633-7772 or email him at