Innovation and staying ahead of your competitors is one of the biggest challenges facing any business. One of the keys to a thriving organisation is the ability for leaders to not just remain sustainable but also grow the business and maintain market share.
Federico Re speaks to NBL CEO – Jeremy Loeliger on InspireTalkTV
According to 2016 ABS reports, 12.3 per cent of Australian businesses failed between June 2013 to June 2016. This leads you to wonder how a business can make itself truly sustainable, when the risks of failure are so apparent.
As it enters its 40th season, the National Basketball League knows about the challenges of operating in a competitive market. Since the NBL’s so-called halcyon days of the late 80s and early 90s, there has been an explosion in number of professional sporting teams and leagues in Australia.
But after years in the wilderness, the NBL is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Record crowds attended games last season and fans enjoyed first class entertainment experiences in stadiums across Australia and New Zealand.
Every game is broadcast live on Fox Sports and NBL TV and games are also streamed live to millions of fans in China.
The NBL’s resurgence coincides with what is becoming a golden era for Australian basketball. It is the second highest participation sport in Australia with just over one million participants and there are a record number of Australians playing in the NBA.
NBL League CEO Jeremy Loeliger shares how the NBL and Australian basketball is making a comeback and how you can make your own business more sustainable. His insights were shared via an interview on InspireTalkTV.
ENTREPRENSURSHIP AND MOVING FORWARD AS A BUSINESS
JOINING as CEO in 2015, Loeliger has been a driving force behind the NBL for the past 3 years. Previously working as a successful lawyer, Loeliger’s Sino-Australian trade and sports diplomacy expertise came to the NBL at the right time.
Still heavily involved with the Australia China Business Council, his qualifications allow Loeliger to push the company beyond the basic requirements of a ‘just sporting league’, helping to reclaim their past successes. “We’re well on our way to recapturing the heights of where the Basketball League was in the 80s and 90s,” says Loeliger.
While already regarded as one of the premier basketball leagues in the world, the NBL knows that this never guarantees long- term sustainability. To make the company truly sustainable, the NBL did what many would be afraid to do and took risks.
As a privately owned league, they chose to invest in innovation. At the end of their first year in partnership with Fox Sports, Loeliger sat down with his colleagues and decided to take complete independent ownership of their production and creative control, a bold move that many would fear to take.
“That’s the kind of entrepreneurship that this organisation required at the time – bold leadership to go places where the sport hadn’t been before,” says Loeliger.
Now, to its credit, the NBL is an accessible and personable organisation, delivering invaluable direct access to their investors.
Long gone is the idea that sustainability describes prosperous cash flow. “It’s about being robust and being able to foresee challenges long before they arise, and having the mechanisms in place to deal with them,” says Loeliger.
Loeliger says that when core revenue streams fail to thrive, entrepreneurs must find resilience, think outside of the box and find alternative methods; Resilience is futile. “It’s about being resilient in the face of challenge and risk, and having applied to forethought to overcoming those risks.”
In a congested and competitive market, the NBL has resisted the urge to play it safe, stretching its legs from being ‘just a sports company’, rather investing in becoming its own media distributer, venture capital and technology company; they found sustainability in their own unique business model.
It is no secret that corporate partners and the public alike are drawn to companies that exhibit an awareness of, and investment in, their local community.
Community engagement plays a large role in their successes, enabling the company to help improve local communities, all whilst appealing to corporate sponsors that are rightly attracted to such a well-represented company.
But community engagement is not just a ‘do-gooder’ façade for the NBL; it’s an honest initiative that shines positively through their actions as a company. “We actually want to play a role in improving society and improving our communities.”
While TV and other streaming services are pivotal to sharing content, Loeliger admits that the NBL has had to approach social media with an open mind. No longer are young generations glued to the television screen at certain times of the day, rather they are often consuming game highlights via social media.
The NBL welcomes and encourages fans to lead the dialogue within their social media comment sections, giving them the opportunity to spark authentic conversation, debate and ultimately become a community. “We’ve invested very heavily in empowering our fans to lead the dialogue of the NBL.”
A business-model filled to the brim with definitively bold decision making, Loeliger and his team’s leadership has set the NBL up for success that can only result from true entrepreneurship and sustainable practice. There is no telling what move the NBL will make next, but there is no doubt that it will be a slam-dunk.