The Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and Canada’s Olympians will be competing for a spot on the podium. What qualities do these athletes use to succeed? As a small business owner, you might think that Olympic-level athletes possess superhuman traits that you’ll never need. The reality is that athletes and entrepreneurs like you share some important characteristics – here are three entrepreneurial traits that may help you win the gold medal.
“Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.” – Donovan Bailey, 2 Time Olympic Gold Medalist, 3 Time World Champion
Do you remember when you first decided to start your own business? You had a vision. You wanted to achieve something, but you didn’t necessarily know how to get it. One thing helped make everything else possible: passion. Passion is the fire that fuels all the hard work you put into your small business. Passion helps you take an abstract idea and form it into a clear goal.
Without passion, it can be exhausting getting up early and putting in the hours to refine your business. Passion wakes you up at the crack of dawn to organize your inventory. It also pushes athletes to beat their personal records. It’s one of the reasons Donovan Bailey won two Olympic gold medals and became the World’s Fastest Man in 1997, before Usain Bolt earned the title.
Not only does passion drive you internally, it can be contagious, inspiring others around you. When you’re passionate about your business, people around you start to notice. Use your passion to attract people towards your business and gain an active customer base. Your fans may begin to appreciate your work more, get drawn towards your vision, and ultimately become loyal, lifelong customers. Use passion to drive your business and the people around it.
“You become what you think about and focus on the most. See yourself attracting the things you want to accomplish. Thoughts and desires in your mind can become a reality.” – Johnathan Toews, 3 Time Stanley Cup Champion, 2 Time Olympic Gold Medalist
Being passionate about your small business is a great way to fuel the fire. To prevent that fire from fizzling out, though, you need focus. Having a clear objective, as well as knowing why you want it and how you’re going to achieve it, can help you succeed. Focus allows you to create a tangible target to reach, and an action plan to help you reach it.
You may think you’re focused if you’re able to complete short-term goals, but if you don’t have a clear idea of where you want your business to be in five years, your business might not grow. When you’re busy completing the day-to-day tasks of your business, it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on future goals. Create an overarching plan and mission for your business, and set tangible long-term goals that you can focus on achieving.
Lacking focus can open up the floodgates for self-doubt, setbacks, and fear of failure. Great athletes learn how to tune out these negative feelings, in order to better focus on their short-term and long-term goals. This commitment to focus helped NHL superstar Johnathan Toews become one of the youngest team captains in NHL history, and it has led to him averaging 65 points a season. If you have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, along with a plan on how to achieve it, putting in the hard work will pay off.
“Many times I had to dig deep and perform. All of that adversity helped me and drove me to want to be the best.” – Hayley Wickenheiser, 4 Time Olympic Gold Medalist, 7 Time World Champion
Like training for the Olympics, running your own small business is no easy journey. There are many obstacles you must overcome, whether that’s trying to keep a steady customer base or struggling to keep the lights on. You’re not alone in this struggle. Like you, Olympic athletes deal with stressful scenarios, and they need to figure out how to handle them. When the deck is stacked against them, Olympians embrace the challenge and push themselves to the limit – this is what makes perseverance such an important quality for both athletes and small business owners.
Athletes know that it can take a long period of time, with a lot of hard work and effort, to achieve success and reach their goals. Take Hayley Wickenheiser, for example. She played on the Canadian women’s ice hockey team for 23 years and is considered the greatest female ice hockey player in the world. Do you think she breezed through her long and illustrious career carried only by luck? H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks no! She worked hard throughout her professional life, through both peaks and valleys.
When she played in her first Winter Olympics in 1998, Team Canada ended up losing to Team USA in the finals, an outcome that would be disheartening to many. Instead of sulking, she continued to train hard and improve her game. When the two teams met up again at the 2002 Winter Olympics finals, Wickenheiser earned her redemption and helped lead her team to victory. She was the tournament MVP, and she won three more Olympic goal medals during her career – the most by any Canadian athlete.
Strong athletes and entrepreneurs use their experiences, both good and bad, to improve themselves. They learn to turn challenges into opportunities, and they continue to persevere through adversity. It’s always difficult to pay the bills during your first few months, or even years, as a small business owner, but if you prioritize perseverance as you face tough challenges, you’ll remain confident and be able to work your way towards the top.
Bring home the gold
To be a successful entrepreneur and grow your business, you need to embed passion, focus, and perseverance into all the work that you do. Having passion will fuel the hard work that you put in while engaging potential customers. Staying focused will help you remove unnecessary negativity that’s preventing you from reaching your goals. Using perseverance to overcome adversity will help you fight through short-term roadblocks and achieve long-term success. With these three entrepreneurial traits, you’ll be running your business like an Olympian, and your success will be the gold medal to prove it!
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