The Olympic Games are considered the leading international sporting event featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games are the world’s foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating every four years.
With the Sochi 2014 Olympic games (i.e., XXII Olympic Winter Games) quickly approaching on February 7th in Sochi, Russia, it made me wonder, “Are entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes similar in any way?” Here’s a look at six things entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes definitely have in common:
Just as an Olympic athlete is dedicated to training, keeping fit and staying at the top of their sport, an entrepreneur must be dedicated to their business … and to living the life of an entrepreneur. Passion feeds dedication. If there is no passion for the type of service or product you are offering, dedication will eventually wane. Dedication is a constant, everyday thing; successful Olympic athletes do not loose their dedication after the Olympics are over. No, they remain dedicated so they can compete another day. Like Olympians, successful entrepreneurs must remain passionately dedicated to their business, day in and day out, even when their feelings are not in agreement.
It would be foolish for an Olympic athlete to even enter competition if they did not have the confidence they could compete successfully and ultimately win. An entrepreneur must also be confident in him- or her-self, the product or service they are offering, and confident in their choice to become an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must have confidence that there is a need for their product or service and that they can effectively build a successful business.
Mental Toughness and Resilience
Entrepreneurs are inherently risk takers. That being said, the ability to hold firm in your resolve to start and grow a business in the face of low finances and naysayers requires nerves of steel. For example, when you have a mortgage payment due and don’t know where your next client or sale is coming from, you have to be mentally tough to find solutions. While watching the women’s long distance running during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, my 86-year old mother and I were in awe of the mental toughness and resiliency these women had to have to run for well over an hour. There comes a point where the body is ready to throw in the towel and the mind takes over to help you cross the finish line.
Patience and Persistence
Unfortunately some Olympic athletes suffer injury and have to drop out of competition or the Olympics altogether. Patience and persistence is required to continue conditioning and holding onto their dream in the face of injury or defeat. I can tell you from experience, successful businesses are not built overnight. There are claims all over the Internet about overnight success in business and while this may hold true for some businesses, this is not the rule of thumb. Patience is required to continue to build a business when you do not seem to be bearing fruit for your efforts. Persistent action is required to build a successful, sustainable business.
This is a biggie, for me especially. The Internet is so rich with opportunity that it can be difficult to focus on one task, goal or project through to completion before jumping onto the next one. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you must focus on what you are trying to accomplish, what is right before you at that moment. Olympic athletes, and athletes in general for that matter, do not focus on the next game or competition. They focus on winning the competition they are in at the moment. Focus also includes the ability to actually set and achieve goals. Tip: Be sure to completely launch one business before starting another one. It may be tempting to ignore this advice. I made this mistake and it was very difficult to get back on track.
Strong Work Ethic
My family and friends wonder why they receive emails from me that were sent at 4 a.m. in the morning. The reason is because sometimes that is when I get around to checking and replying to personal email. I find it curious that people will wonder why entrepreneurs work so hard and may even tease them about their work ethic, but no one wonders why people bring work home with them from a traditional job. You will find successful Olympic athletes (and athletes in general) at the basketball court and in the swimming pool long after the crowds and other athletes have left. You will find successful entrepreneurs creating products, updating their website and doing research long after everyone else is gone to bed.
So as we watch the Sochi games in February let’s think about these characteristics, and work ever harder to reach our dreams.
Michael Tandarich is the founder of NO-COMPLY Designs, a design agency for startups and small businesses. NO-COMPLY recently had one of their designs featured on the NASDAQ tower in times square. Michael has always had a passion for marketing and design, and has worked with multiple companies in the past on creative solutions.
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