To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to be willing to go where you need to go.
Athletes go to the Olympics, the Olympics don’t go to the athletes. Today, we can conveniently fly to whatever exotic (or non-exotic) locale the Games have to be in. But in ancient times it required a long journey to get there. Regardless of how near or far the Olympics are, one thing is true: If you don’t show up, you can’t compete.
Likewise, today’s Olympic-level entrepreneurs can work from the comfort of their home but need to be willing to go elsewhere – perhaps to work with clients or to speak or attend networking events. I’ll be honest, this one is a sticking point for me. I live in a great house in a great city and I like hanging around with my wife. I’m focused and creative in my office. I don’t write as well when I’m on the road. As a result, my not going is one factor that holds me back.
Yeah, I don’t like holding up the mirror and making that honest realization about myself. I Know it’s a “must do” for other entrepreneurs… and for me as well. The networking that comes out of trade shows, conferences, and other industry events can build your business and your position in the industry. There will come a time when I need to suck it up and make the journey myself.
To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to ignore your competition.
In a previous blog I said that Olympic athletes know their competitors. And that is true. Going into the Olympics, they likely know what their opponents are skilled at, what areas they are weak in, and under what conditions the athlete or the opponent has the advantage. That competitive research is true up to the beginning of the event. And then it doesn’t matter after that. During the event, athletes don’t waste time and effort looking around to see if they can see their opponents. During the event they are entirely focused on winning.
Olympic-level entrepreneurs would be wise to follow the same advice: Maintain deep competitive knowledge about the competition and use that to create an advantage – but through the course of the day, the Olympic athlete ignores the competition and focuses on his or her own excellence.
I’m frequently asked to write “viral” content, but there are a lot of elements that contribute to the success or failure of viral content. In this video, the folks at seomoz bring us another Whiteboard Friday to talk about why some viral content doesn’t work. (Yeah, it’s 2 years old… but still relevant).
To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to slow down only after you’ve crossed the finish line.
Olympic athletes in speed-measured sports (like speed skating, as opposed to judged sports like figure skating) know that competing in a race means two things: (1) Getting up to speed as quickly as possible; (2) Maintaining that speed through the finish line. Racers in every sport know that you shouldn’t slow down in front of the finish line. Slowing down ahead of the finish line lets others speed past you. It’s like fighting in martial arts: The most effective punch is one that tries to strike 6 inches behind the subject. And, it’s like an effective swing in golf: The greatest distance is achieved when the player has a good follow-through.
Olympic-level entrepreneurs have a similar opportunity for greater success by charging full-speed ahead and not slowing down. When you sit down to work, your focus should be on a few key things that you do well and you need to work on doing those things with excellence throughout the day. It can be tempting, as you cross off goals throughout your day or as you reach a certain level of success in your career, to pull back a bit. But dialing your effort down isn’t the best thing to do until after you’ve surpassed the goals you’ve set for yourself.
To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to control as many factors as you can.
You don’t always notice this in some sports, but in other sports it becomes much clearer: There are millions of little factors that can improve or take away from an athlete’s ability to win. For the 2010 Olympics, external factors include temperature, snow cover (and the type snow), elevation, and humidity; while internal examples include health, nutrition, rest, oxygen intake, and more. Athletes will do whatever they can to control as many of these factors as possible, or to allow for them. They can’t control the temperature but they can bring different types of clothes and they can decide what to wear according to the forecast. They can’t control the elevation but serious athletes can train at the same elevation as the one in which they will be competing. Where you really see this happening is in the biathlon, where shooters control their breathing to reduce their heart rate and the impact it can have on hitting a target.
Olympic-level entrepreneurs need to do the same thing: Identify as many factors that influence their business and figure out how to control (or mitigate) them. External and internal factors are as relevant here and include the economy, customer trends, competitors, as well as health, nutrition, and rest.
This week, why not take some time and list every factor that influences your business (yes, it will be a huge list) and then figure out how you can control as many factors as possible.