4 Things Olympians Can Teach Small Business Owners

Owning and running a small business is anything but easy. The tradeoff for the chance to put energy into building your dream instead of someone else’s? Hours and hours of preparation, hard work, focus, patience and dedication…and all that still might not be enough. Plenty of other factors (competition, bureaucracy, the changing whims of consumers, luck) can contribute to your success.

Owning a small business reminds us of another incredible feat — competing in the Olympics. To celebrate this year’s showing in Rio, here’s our list of our favorite Olympic moments that will inspire you to be a better small business owner.

Shaun White at the 2010 Vancouver Games. White, who had a huge hand in getting the Olympics to add snowboarding as an event in 2006, had already secured his gold medal during the Snowboarding Halfpipe finals when he pulled off the world’s first Double McTwist 1260 — the most difficult trick in snowboarding history. 

Lesson learned: If there’s an aspect of business that you’re better at than anybody else, show it off and stun the industry with your prowess. Now is not the time to be humble.

Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. When Retton became the first American to win a gold medal in gymnastics, she didn’t look like any other gymnast in the arena. Gymnasts of the era were slender and graceful and Retton took plenty of flack for being powerful and explosive before she took home her medals.

Lesson learned: Ignore your critics and do what you love. 

The Jamaican Bobsled Team at the 1988 Calgary Games. It was the country’s first appearance at a Winter Games and they didn’t even medal but the world loved them so much they became a Disney movie!

Lesson learned: Success often comes in a different form than you had imagined it. Embrace it instead of thumbing your nose at it.

Dan Jansen at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Jansen entered the 1988 Games as a World Champion speed skater and the heavy favorite in the 500-meter and 1000-meter events. After learning that his sister had passed away from leukemia a few hours before, he went on to fall in both races and left the games with no medals. In 1992, he left the Albertville Games with no medals, again. Finally, in 1994 Jansen defied expectations to win his first and only gold medal, at the end of his career.

Lesson learned: If you really believe in your business and your ability to make it a success, never give up.