Going Gold: 3 Strategies Small Business Owners Should Borrow from the Olympics

Date: August 23, 2016

What business owners can learn from Olympians like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps.

Even though the Olympians said goodbye to the 2016 Rio Games on Aug. 21—and millions more said goodbye to their primetime TV viewing—small business owners shouldn’t quite yet forget what happened at the summer games. 

Stay on top of your small business game.

Beyond the U.S.’ 121 medals, recording-breaking performances, and even one Olympic-sized scandal, entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from these world-class athletes. Here are three pointers that can get your small business up on the podium. 

Stop comparing your business to the competition. 

Michael Phelps’ game face before the 200-meter butterfly semifinal race against rival Chad le Clos—the swimmer who beat Phelps at the same event at the 2012 London Games—inspired a viral meme, but it’s also a great reminder for small business owners: Focus on your own work.

“Phelps refused to get distracted by what was going on around him,” The Huffington Post reported. “He simply focused on the race.”

By keeping an eye on their own business goals, entrepreneurs can prioritize delivering the best products and services to their customers instead of endlessly chasing what others are doing. 

Keep success in perspective.

So much attention is placed on gold medal winners that it can make silver and bronze victories seem insignificant. But as American swimmer Nathan Adrian reminds us, to medal at all on the world’s most competitive stage is wildly impressive. 

After a reporter asked him about his bronze-medal finish in the 100-meter freestyle race, Adrian simply replied, “I can’t be upset with that.” 

“Watching the Olympics, you’re left with the idea that if you don’t win gold, you haven’t accomplished anything,” the Poughkeepsie Journal reported. “In real life and in real business—especially small business—there are many winners, even if you’re not No. 1.” 

Strategic partnerships can be a huge benefit.

The Olympics are expensive. From making sure venues are top-notch to organizing lodging for athletes in the Olympic Village, the International Olympics Committee can’t come up with enough funds to host a successful event on its own. That’s where sponsorships come in. 

More than 40 percent of Olympic revenue comes from corporate partnerships, according to the International Olympic Committee’s website. While small business owners probably won’t partner with McDonald’s, they can still leverage strategic partnerships to benefit their business.

“For example, FedEx Office offers products, services and convenience that can help small businesses develop and grow,” according to the American Express Open Forum. “You can use the company’s direct-mail services, flyers, brochures, signage, banners and business stationery to bolster the branding and efficiency of your business.” 

Photo credit: Agência Brasil

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