• Tips for Entrepreneurs

Take a Page From Reebok's Playbook

What Makes a Company Successful? Five Tips for Entrepreneurs

By Uli Becker, president
Reebok International

1. Successful companies have clear strategies that people understand. More successful companies live their strategy.

When we took over Reebok in 2006, our team had to start coming up with a plan to clean things up.

It took a while, and needless to say the recession didn’t help, but we knew we wanted to be innovators in our field again, as Reebok was in the 1980s during the aerobics craze. That was the decade when women got hooked on fitness, and we were leading the pack in sales of aerobics shoes and apparel. So we began planning and executing a strategy to get us on steady ground first.

In 2010, we discovered the CrossFit exercise program, and I admit that I was not a true believer—at first.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting in to. But after I did CrossFit for just four weeks, I was hooked. That is why I am so psyched about it, and why I want all of my employees to do it.

I lost 40+ pounds in the last 12 months through managing my nutrition intake and increasing my physical activity. If you do both, I promise, you’ll feel 10 times stronger. Even though my knees are screwed up from years of playing sports in Germany, I am healthy again. And that’s remarkable, given the fact that I am in that age group where you are either doing well, or you end up in the hospital.

My goal is to stave off diabetes and Alzheimer’s, because while I want to live a long life, I want to avoid having the last years of my life suck. So if I am in charge of making myself healthier, and continuing this healthy lifestyle for the next 20, 30, 40 years, then growing older and staying healthy is more likely. What more evidence do I need? Once you get there, why would you go back?

If more people adopt this attitude, in time, it could be a revolution.

2. Successful companies engage their employees.

Once we found CrossFit, we knew that we couldn’t just spread the word about the impact of this fitness program. We knew that we needed to actually live it.

In the 15 months since signing our collaboration agreement with CrossFit and opening the Box for our employees to use, this whole organization has had a culture shift. We are now living what we are preaching, and that gives us an even greater probability of being successful.

Through the pounds we lose, through the confidence it builds, to the collaborative efforts that are forged when people from different departments meet each other in the CrossFit Box—everything gets stronger.

3. Successful companies have a bigger purpose.

For a sports company, it’s pretty easy to engage your own employees. After all, most of the people who work here do so because they like sports and think this is an exciting, sexy industry to work in.

As I said before, I don’t go to work. I come here to play. This is my hobby. And, it’s the same for many of my colleagues.

But when we gave that a bigger purpose, and really made exercising and fitness part of what our employees do for themselves every day, we took the entire proposition to a new level. By encouraging them to work out, we are telling them that we want them to be fitter people who look at life with open eyes regarding what is possible. We want them to engage more, and to collaborate with their peers. When you push yourself past your limits in the CrossFit Box, you bond with those around you. It helps make our whole team stronger.

This is a great opportunity for the individual employee, and for the company as a whole.

4. Successful companies see an opening in the marketplace, and help create a shift.

We hope that other companies see what we are doing, and in the next few years set up a CrossFit Box and the gyms on their corporate campuses.

Already, when our partners and suppliers come here, they are blown away by how we have all transformed in such a short period of time. It’s really obvious to them that we are doing something right.

So our goal is to work B2B, and help other companies do what we have done when it comes to creating a strong link between work and fitness.

Increasingly, as we can prove that we are a more successful company in terms of the products, and a more creative company because our healthier, active employees are more engaged, we are confident that other companies will do the same.

5. Successful companies know how consumers think. They pay attention to trends—and take their products and services to market at the right time.

Given the great recession of 2008, which is still lingering for many industries, it may not seem like this is a good time to launch something new.

But we think it is the perfect time because what we are seeing is that consumers, and many companies, are starting to think differently.

The recession has woken people up. There has been a values shift among consumers and corporate executives, and the financial pain has caused a shift in what people feel is important. It has brought people together. Exercising, and getting fit and healthy, is something that we can all do—and be better for it. It’s affordable, and easy to do once you get hooked.

Plus, if we can help make thousands of people more active—we can decrease health care costs. That’s good for every company, every household, and every country in the world.

For more information about Reebok, CrossFit, and the CrossFit Games, visit www.reebok.com.

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