The fall season is upon us, and, along with all things pumpkin spice, comes a return of many favorite TV shows after the summer hiatus. In our house, a top choice is Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” the story of a U.K. football (soccer) team, AFC Richmond, and its leader, the title character Ted Lasso. Ted is an American college football coach hired by AFC Richmond’s owner to move to the U.K. and take the helm as head coach. Unbeknownst to Ted, he is a pawn in her divorce-revenge plot as she hopes his lack of experience will lead to the sinking of the team’s standings.

As the story unfolds, viewers follow along as Ted and his assistant, Coach Beard, enter the foreign world of English Premier football and learn to navigate the complexities of an unfamiliar sport and highly charged personalities of the team members under their charge. The show has a lighthearted and humorous tone yet underlying all of this are profound explorations into human motivation and organizational behavior. As the coaches work to build an incredible culture rooted in positivity and teamwork it is easy to forget that you are watching a sports show. However, you will find yourself rooting for each character as they fall under the spell of Ted’s incredible leadership.

While I won’t spoil too much of the show’s happenings, a moment in a recent episode struck me with a particularly poignant message — one that small business owners can draw inspiration from. In it, AFC Richmond’s team captain, Isaac, is in a dark place emotionally, exuding negativity with the team he is charged with leading and his performance on the field is far below his abilities. To inspire change in his behavior, he is “tricked” into showing up to play at a neighborhood pick-up soccer match. At first, he scoffs at the idea of playing “down” with a bunch of amateurs but soon he discovers that in experiencing the simple joy of playing the game he loves, his energy and attitude are transformed and his performance soars.

Watching Isaac’s experience reminded me of the journey of entrepreneurship. When starting out, in that “budding business” phase, entrepreneurs exude an incredible sense of purpose and positivity, fueled by passion, confidence and hopefulness for their future. Yet, once the business gets underway, the toll of the long hours, customer demands and never-ending learning can begin to grind down even the heartiest of business owners. Passion and enthusiasm can wane, product quality slips, customer service diminishes and employee dynamics sour.

The pandemic has added an extra layer of stress and complexity. Many business owners I have talked to recently have expressed feelings of exhaustion and burnout. Some wonder whether they are cut out for this any longer and if they should simply throw in the towel.

When these types of conversations happen in a small business coaching session, I often encourage the owner to share with me their “founder’s story” — what was it that drove them to get started in the first place? The purpose of exploring this early stage is to hopefully rediscover their “why?” in the hope that it reminds them and rekindles their spirit and energy of their early entrepreneurial journey.

If you find yourself with waning energy and enthusiasm for your business, serving your customers or inspiring and leading your employees, I encourage you to explore some of these questions:

• What was it that drove you to want to be a business owner?

• How did you feel when you started your business?

• What was that special and unique thing about you, your product or service that gave you confidence to get started?

• What benefits did you see your business delivering to customers?

• What do you love about your business?

• Why do your customers love your business?

Hopefully, by taking yourself on this journey back to your early entrepreneur self, you can, like Isaac in “Ted Lasso,” rediscover the passion and enthusiasm needed to inspire you to show up fully for your business, customers and team moving forward.

Jessica Newhall is the associate director and Small Business Management Program manager for the Clatsop Community College Small Business Development Center. She can be reached at

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