The Turnaround Artist


What can we learn about business from The Minnesota Twins?


I learned a few great business ideas from a recent article in Entrepreneuer Magazine. In the early 2000’s Jim Pohlad inherited The Minnesota Twins a major league baseball franchise that was failing. In the beginning of Pohlad’s tenure The Twins had poor attendance, were not winning and had a stadium that was one of the worst facilities in baseball. Pohlad, now touted as a hero, began running the team like a small business. He shared 5 ideas that could be guidelines for every small business owner. These are 5 ideas that saved the franchise. In the turn around Pohlad has made them one of the most successful franchises in baseball today.


1)    Identify Your Strengths


Pohlad knew that they did not have the luxury of a huge budget. Big market teams could spend their way out of their mistakes by acquiring big market, highly paid players. The Twins were going to have to be efficient and develop their talent from within. This is a slower but more sustainable strategy that could be managed and controlled.


2)    Offer A Unique Experience


Pohlad worked with the Minnesota State Legislature to get a new state of the art facility built. Target Field allows fans to have an experience that transcends the baseball game itself. He has focused on creating environments to enjoy local food, shopping venues and luxury boxes. He has created a unique experience that keeps people coming back and wanting to spend their money.


3)    Connect With Your Customers


The Twins have managed to keep their players accessible to their fans. Players are accessible to the fans through promotional days and fun events. Throughout this period they have continued to have numerous affordable seating options. These ideas have created one of the most loyal groups of fans in all of sports.



4)    Remain Loyal To Your Employees


The Twins have a startling number of employees who have been with the franchise for 20+ years. During tough times senior management has hung in there and not jumped ship to other franchises, thus sending a powerful message throughout the organizations ranks.


5)    Know When It’s Time To Act Like A Big Business


Over the years there have been numerous  franchise type players who were not resigned to larger contracts. However, Pohlad knew that when Joe Mauer’s contract was up for renegotiation that he could not let him slip away. Mauer is a local icon-a three sport star at a local high school and numerous professional awards. This was a moment that Pohlad couldn’t disappoint the fans. He had to retain this player to build his franchise around. This decision resulted in retaining Mauer to an eight year, $184 million deal (something that any small business owner couldn’t imagine) but the timing was right.


“Nothing is so successful that it can’t be mis-managed. If you lose sight of what you’re doing, it could be here today and gone tomorrow.” 


– Jim Pohlad, Owner of The Minnesota Twins



Jim Pohlad has turned the Twins franchise around leaving his mark on an organization, city and generations of fans.


Could your organization learn from these 5 Ideas? What are some other great small business ideas?


Thanks and credit to Bruce Schoenfeld for the original article in Entrepreneuer Magazine, August 2010.


Looking to contribute an article to the blog? Click here to learn about how to apply and what the guidelines are.

Book Todd For Your Next Event