One of my best friends, Sean Furey, is representing the U.S. in javelin this year in London. His dream is finally being realized after years of preparation, training, injury and setbacks, rehab, and of course, personal bests along the way. He had to earn his spot on the team, just like every other Olympian.
To win a gold medal, or to simply compete in the Olympics, is a dream that drives athletes to sacrifice and compete at an elite level that most people aren’t willing to do -- yet there’s no money! Last time I checked, you can’t retire on a gold medal.
So why don’t more business owners compete like Olympians in their businesses when success is financial freedom? Here are 3 ways to apply winning Olympic principles to our everyday business regimen:
Bob Knight, one of the most successful basketball coaches of all time, said, “The key is not the 'will to win'...everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” That’s true with all sports and it’s true in business as well. Preparation is the first step if you want to succeed in just about anything.
Unfortunately, preparation is where we will spend a lot of our time. Success, whether it’s winning a race or finally retiring with all the money you could ever need, will be just a blip on your timeline. So it’s important to embrace the journey and try to enjoy the ride. For the past 8 years, my friend Sean was competing in untelevised track meets, with only a few friends and family members in the crowd cheering. But those small meets prepared him mentally and physically for the big stage in London.
In business, preparation is primarily strategic planning, but it also includes competitive analysis, learning, hiring, establishing partnerships and all other activities that move the business closer to your ultimate goal.
Most business owners do not spend nearly enough time preparing and planning for success. In fact, many do not even define and write down what success would look like. Instead, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks that don’t push the business forward. Take some time to think through your ultimate goal; then write down the key milestones you need to achieve to hit your goal, and document your strategic plan for the next 3 to 5 years. Don’t worry about getting this perfect. You’ll continually adjust your plan based on real-world results, just like Sean tweaked his form to add several meters to his javelin throws.
If you’ve invested time in preparation, then execution should be the easy part. Think back to elementary school when you studied and were actually prepared for a quiz. The hard part was studying. The quiz was a breeze, right?
That’s how it should be in your business as well. Execute on the steps outlined in your strategic plan. Like an athlete at the Olympics, leave the fear of failure behind -- if you don't, it may become what actually leads to you to under-perform during the qualifying round or unintentionally give up your spot on the podium during the finals.
#3: Review and Refine
The final step is to review your results and refine your plan based on successful and failed attempts to grow your business. Like preparation, this step is often overlooked because, frankly, it’s difficult. Reviewing poor results and facing reality can be painful, but it’s critical to learn from failure as quickly as possible so you can change course and get back on track.
Athletes study every little detail of their competitors to isolate weaknesses and find ways to perfect their form. They then circle back to step #1 and prepare for the next chance to compete and improve.
As a business owner, you too must carefully review every important metric in your business. Then, based on test results, revise your strategic plan and return to the preparation phase with your newfound knowledge. This cycle should repeat continuously as you steadily and systematically improve your business.
Remember, execution is typically the easy part in this process. To compete like an Olympian requires much more preparation, planning, and refining than the average business owner is willing to do. It’s hard work, but if you put in the necessary time and effort, then you will eventually reach your goal.
Phil Frost is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Main Street ROI in New York, NY. Main Street ROI develops step-by-step training courses to make online marketing simple and more profitable for small businesses. Click here to get the 5 steps to rank #1 in Google in 30 days or less.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.