You’ve been waiting your whole life for this moment. The atmosphere is electric with both tension and anticipation. This is your chance to finally prove your worth as a competitor, to shut down all the naysayers who said you couldn’t get this far, to achieve the dream you’ve been working for.
You’re going for gold.
This week, thousands of athletes are experiencing these emotions at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And, as a small business owner, so are you.
No, you’re probably not a world-class skier, skater, or curler, but you have likely experienced the talents, triumph, and training of competing to be the best at your craft. There aren’t any Business Olympics (too bad!), but you can still take some lessons from the world’s top Olympic athletes and go for gold with your own small business.
Shaun White started snowboarding at age 6, Ted Ligety first strapped on a pair of skis at age 2, and figure skater Gracie Gold also learned to skate as a toddler (while most 2-year-olds are still perfecting the mechanics of walking!). The point is, the world’s top performers have been at this for nearly their entire lives.
You probably haven’t been fixing cars or cutting hair or trying cases since your preschool days (kudos if you have!), but chances are you’ve been developing a skill or a character trait since you were a child that can help you in your current career.
Does your mom tell stories about how you used to take your Hot Wheels cars apart just to see what was inside? Were you the chatty and friendly kid at recess? Did you talk your parents into changing your bedtime from 8pm to 9?
The skills and traits you’ve been expressing since you were a child are bound to be fully ingrained in your personality; if you can use them to fuel your business success, reaching the top will be like second nature.
Use your naturally chatty nature to your advantage when cutting a client’s hair, let your prime negotiating skills earn you points in the courtroom, and let your quality repair work speak for itself in your auto body shop.
Get a Coach
There isn’t an Olympic athlete (or pro athlete, for that matter) who has gotten where they are on their own. There is always a coach behind the scenes cheering, correcting, encouraging, screaming, and teaching them the mechanics of each sport.
Coaches develop a working relationship with their mentees that rivals that of the closest friendship: they’re there for everything. Every practice. Every success. Every failure.
If you’ve started your own business, you know exactly how hard it is to stumble forth without a clear direction of where you’re going (or whether that’s even the right direction for you). Finding a good business mentor to keep you on track and give you relevant, expert advice can be one of the best tools for building your business from start-up to Fortune 500.
Find a business mentor whose career path matches your own preferred trajectory and listen to them. They didn’t get to be where they are just by “winging it.”
Pursue Your Goals With Laser Focus
Do you think Bode Miller got to the Olympic games by hitting the slopes on the weekends, followed by parties at his buddy’s lake house? Think again!
Every decision an Olympic hopeful makes is based on whether or not it will help them achieve their goal: what they eat, how often they practice, how long they stay at the gym, what (if any) hobbies they do in their spare time. Nothing is allowed in their lives if it will distract them from making it to the games.
This doesn’t mean you have to kiss your family goodbye and spend the night huddled beneath your office desk. But it does mean shedding all those irrelevant tasks that prevent you from growing your business.
Are you spending so much time on your social media accounts that the quality of your work is suffering? Are you wasting thousands of dollars a month on ads in the Yellow Pages? Do you spend too much time and money refurbishing your new location and not enough time marketing it?
Like an Olympian, identify what “success” means to you. (If you own a business, it should probably mean “a certain amount of income.”) Then make sure every business decision you make helps you meet that goal. And kiss everything else goodbye.
Remember the Competition
For owners of very small businesses (for instance, solopreneurs who work from home), it can be tempting to think of yourself as an island, untouched by any isthmus that may connect you to the rest of the world.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
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In the Olympics, it’s the difference between being on a hockey team and being a downhill skier. The hockey players can’t compete without thinking about the opposition, but when it comes to downhill skiing, there’s no one else on the slope, just the solo athlete and his hopes for gold.
But just because you can’t see your competition doesn’t mean they’re not there. You have to pay attention to your opponent’s scores (or their Yelp ratings, or the number of customers, or their online presence) so you know exactly how hard you have to compete to beat them.
You have to pay close attention to their mistakes so you can identify how they tripped up and avoid falling into the same trap. When it’s crunch time, you can only control your own performance, but knowing what you’re up against will push you to reach your best.
Go for the Long Game
Unlike other sporting events, each Olympic games only comes around every four years. A discouraging proposition for gymnasts (who peak during a small window of time), but it leaves plenty of time for other athletes to practice and grow in their field.
This isn’t the Superbowl, where a different team makes it to the playoffs every year. This is a long-term game, where the same high-level athletes have the talent and the stamina to stay at the top of their game for 4, 8, even 12 years or more.
Sure, marketing strategies and business tactics that focus on short-term success are great, but they shouldn’t be your only play. Give yourself a few long-term goals to reach over time.
Go ahead, think big. “Olympics” big. Give yourself plenty of time and develop strategic steps for getting there. Maybe you want to be the top-rated restaurant on Yelp in your area. Maybe you want your website to reach the first page of Google.
Whatever your goal, don’t be afraid of the path it takes to get there. It’s a long road that every top Olympian has to travel. That’s how a 6-year-old redhead from San Diego ends up with 2 Olympic gold medals (and how your business will reach Olympic-style success, too).
Whether you want nothing less than gold, or will settle for simply getting a medal (still a great accomplishment!), Clarity would love to help you get there. Learn more about our work, then click here to contact us for a free business consultation to see how we can coach you to business success. Or, simply leave a comment below (scroll past the recommended posts). We’d love to hear from you!
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We prefer the summer Olympics, but this year we discovered the joys of watching curling and haven’t looked back.