Wednesday, August 4, 2021

What Can an Entrepreneur Learn from the Olympics?

There’s been a lot written about how nobody is watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Yes, I know they are happening now in 2021 because of the COVID pandemic, but they are still calling them the 2020 games.) Well, that hasn’t been the case in my household. We’ve enjoyed watching all sorts of competition so far, especially volleyball (a family favorite), swimming, and, of course, St. Paul’s own, Suni Lee, the first Hmong-American Olympian, who won the gold medal in the Olympic women’s gymnastics all-around!

In any event, seeing a blog post on my “to do” list for this week in the middle of my Olympic binging led me to search for interesting Olympic entrepreneurial tidbits. What I found was quite a bit of content, including this article about Olympic athletes who are thriving as entrepreneurs. While many of the individuals listed had later success in sports-related businesses, their successes also included perfume, coffee, and the well-known George Foreman grill

There are also many articles about lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from the habits of Olympic athletes (in articles like this onethis one, and, more recently, this one or this one).  Let me summarize some of the common (and relatively obvious) takeaways, since you may not have time to read them all:

  • It takes a team to be successful—don’t try and do it all yourself.
  • Follow your passion—trying to build a business is a challenge in itself, but growing a business in something you are not passionate about is even more difficult!
  • It takes hard work to be successful and you should be preparing to succeed from the very start.
  • Stay focused on the long goal—ye
    ars of training lead to Olympic success; it doesn’t happen overnight. Of course, you can always take the advice of Mark Spitz, the most successful American Olympic swimmer of all time—with 7 gold medals, all in world record time, at the 1972 Munich Olympics—until a guy named Michael Phelps hit the pool. Spitz’s take? “I’m not concerned with tomorrow, but with what goes on today.”
  • Flexibility is key—learn to roll with the punches because nothing goes as planned (remember all those hours training to culminate in Tokyo in the summer of 2020?).

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