How Your Small Business Productivity can Survive March Madness 2013

March Madness causes, well, madness for small businesses – especially those in the US. As one of the most popular annual sporting events in the US, the college basketball tournament is attracting 57 million viewers back in 2012, and we can expect similar figure this year.

march madness 2013

It’s all so exciting – but the problem is, it causes major disruption in business productivity, which eventually will affect your bottom line. So, how your small biz can survive through the 4-week tournament?

College basketball is hot in the US – it’s the third most popular sporting event in the US – right after the Superbowl (American football) and NBA Finals (basketball.) March Madness has a long history; this year, it’s the 75th.

So, let’s just say for 75 years, March Madness virtually is stopping college basketball fans from what they are doing and start following and cheering for their favourite team, especially their alma-mater.

Just like anything else in life, there are the good and the bad when it comes to March Madness.

To some small businesses, it means distraction. Low productivity always means a bad thing for a business – whether you run a 10-staff shop or self-employed.

However, it’s not all that bad, really. Many small businesses are riding on the March Madness trends; from the start date – March 19, 2013 – to the end date – April 8, 2013 – they are taking the opportunities to promote their products and services; some small businesses are even using March Madness as a way to motivate their employees.

For the bigger picture, check out Forbes’ infographic on March Madness

productivity infographic

So, with those taken into consideration, I’ve come up with some practical tips for you and your staffs to stay productive while rooting for your favourite basketball team…

Make March Madness work for your business – accommodate the fans-slash-employees!

We all know happy employees always mean a good thing; you can also have more bargaining power to retain top talents. Productivity increase is also a good “side effect” if high employee morale.

Now, let’s talk about March Madness fever. Many small biz owners don’t like the idea of letting their employees bury themselves in tournament charts, predictions, a bit of gambling and so on. But let’s be honest here: What can you and I do?

Telling them not to mention anything about March Madness? Suspending anyone who is caught checking on March Madness updates during working hours? It’s possible, but it’s resource consuming – and things can backfire easily, as doing so can result in low employee morale; believe me, you don’t want that to happen in your business.

So, before you send out warnings, suspending anyone who refuse to follow your rules, why don’t you take this opportunity to make March Madness work for your business by improving your employees’ morale, boosting teamwork (and a bit of healthy conflicts) and increasing productivity?

Some ideas

Whether you run a staffed business or work on your own, you can maintain your and your business’ productivity by implementing some smart ideas – here are some of them…

1. Turn March Madness into a social activity

You could try to arrange a small contest on office, e.g. “Guess the winner and win!” or something like that. How about creating an “official” Road to Final Four tournament bracket in-store or in-office, so your big-college-hoops-fans-slash-employees don’t have to create their own bracket to predict how things will go? How about having your Manager(s) to encourage talks about March Madness via mini-breaks – and manage the time spent to actually discuss about it?

2. Implement 80/20 rule!

I’m a big fan of 80/20 rule, due to its flexibility: You can implement it on any aspect of your work and life, in such a way that you can be more productive.

If you are self-employed and a big fan of the college basketball tournament, you can always arrange things so that every part will fall into place according to a well-defined priority.

Implementing the 80/20 principle, you can always arrange your work of the day in such a way that those less important but need to do can be done while you are watching/listening to the live broadcast. Alternatively, if you can afford to watch a match-up in recording, you can try to record a live game and watch it later. Your choice.

3. Set deadlines and give rewards

Believe it or not, people are most productive when put in tight deadlines. I have proven this myself.

Setting up deadlines and give rewards when the deadlines are met is effective and efficient in boosting productivity. Now, how about connecting the rewards to March Madness – i.e. allowing your employees to watch or follow the broadcast when the work for the day is finished.


The ideas mentioned here is to manage and control access to March Madness, instead of banning it altogether. If you are doing this right, you can enhance employee morale and actually increase overall office productivity.

Of course, maintaining productivity of your staffs is one thing; you need another part of the equation: Using March Madness to boost your sales.

Indeed, surfing the trends can help you sell more. It’s also a good way to compensate the loss of productivity.

Promote your products with March Madness-related pitch. You can launch a promo that is only valid during March Madness; you can also arrange giveaways related to the tournament – how about letting your customers choose who will win the Final Four and when they actually win they get vouchers or special discounts?

Ideas presented in this post are very limited – there are definitely many ideas you can implement. Your job as a small business owner is to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and see things from a different perspective.

Have productivity-enhancing ideas to share? Please do so by leaving a comment on this blog post…