Recently, I binge watched the docuseries “Cheer” on Netflix. The six-episode series follows a group of cheerleaders at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. This is not an ordinary cheer squad. They are fiercely competitive, guided by their cheerleading coach Monica Aldama. Every single member of the team is in it to win it — specifically, winning a national title at the NCA-NDA Collegiate Cheer Nationals in Daytona, Florida.
One of the first things “Cheer” makes abundantly clear is that cheerleading is a real sport. It may have a reputation for putting its members on the sidelines and dressing them up with pom poms, but that stereotype is largely outdated. Athletes that devote themselves to competitive cheerleading give more than their blood, sweat, and tears. They spend hours working out, stunting, and tumbling. They throw cheerleaders into the air and catch their bodies with little more than a padded mat on the ground for support. And, lest anyone forget this, they are also students studying in college.
Like “Cheer,” certain aspects of entrepreneurship are also accompanied by their own versions of expectations versus reality. Small business owners are not on the traditional employment path. They may set their own hours and work from home. For an outsider looking in, this may equate to success. The reality is every hour is spent working, and thinking, about the business. Working from home often means combating loneliness and success is measured less on flashy social media wins and more on retaining and growing a network of bread and butter clients.
I won’t spoil how the series ends. You’ll have to see for yourself. What I have discovered in watching “Cheer” is that there are lessons entrepreneurs can utilize for the benefit of their small businesses.
Trust in your team and yourself.
Trust is a major factor when assembling a cheerleading squad. Cheerleaders are repeatedly tossed and passed around in the air. The only safety net to catch them are their fellow squad members. The “best” cheerleading squad is not comprised of members that are the most attractive or BFFs with one another. It’s the squad that trusts in each person no matter what. They are passionate about the sport, determined to work hard, and want to see everyone succeed.
The same can be said for entrepreneurs. Hiring employees is often a major challenge for small businesses. Some may not initially find great talent. They may be desperate to hire for the role and forced to settle for hiring an employee that isn’t particularly invested in the business or thrilled to be there. This will not be beneficial for your company in the long run. Hire slowly and with intention. Look for individuals with strong work portfolios and an even stronger work ethic. Seek out team player mentalities. Individually, everyone should be skilled in their roles. Together, they should be on each other’s team.
Find your Jerry.
The heart of “Cheer” is a cheerleader named Jerry Harris. Jerry’s background has been filled with hardships that are almost unimaginable for someone so young to experience. Through it all, Jerry is a complete beam of sunshine on and off the mat. He roots for every cheerleader, pumping everyone full of confidence day in and day out.
“You are beautiful. You are fantastic. You are a star, baby. Yes!”
Jerry’s joy is naturally infectious. The Navarro College cheer squad adores him. He’s a true friend to one and all.
Every entrepreneur needs a tribe that reflects their vibe. This tribe is generally comprised of a tight-knit group of individuals such as family, spouses, close friends, and mentors. My “Jerrys” are my husband and two sons.
Think about the people in your life that uplift you the most and have got your back when the chips are down (or up). If you don’t already have individuals like this in your sphere, recalibrate to find them through networking or mentorship. Entrepreneurship often leaves individuals second guessing their choices, questioning and doubting whether they can walk down this road. You need individuals that will champion you no matter what.
It’s not about the trophy.
Much of “Cheer” is centered around the national championship in Daytona. A countdown of the number of days left until Daytona often appears on screen, briefly reminding the audience of the end goal the squad is trying to reach. The Navarro College cheerleaders only get a few minutes to perform in Daytona and must go above and beyond for their shot to win first place.
However, before they can compete at nationals the cheerleaders must be able to make mat. Only 20 get to perform at Daytona and this team has more than 20 members. Even if someone isn’t chosen for that 20-member list, they can’t count themselves out. Someone could get injured and another cheerleader would have to step up and take their place.
In entrepreneurship, it’s not about the trophy. Most small businesses do have a major goal they’re working to reach. However, I have personally found that the journey to reaching that goal means meeting all sorts of smaller goals that add up to the big picture.
If something happens and you do reach your goal, then you may find it’s time to channel your inner coach Monica. What’s your next big goal? What would you like to push yourself to accomplish next? Are you ready to do it again — and win?
Strategize on what’s to come next and how you can push for bigger and better achievements. You’ve got this.