Episode 48 - What the Olympics can teach us about small business

We see life lessons all around us, and the Olympics are no different. In this week's episode, we discuss 5 things the Olympics can teach us about small business.

Here are our 5 top lessons we learned from the Olympics:

Too many sales messages ruin the experience

One of the major complaints found on social media about the opening ceremony broadcast was the overabundance of commercial breaks. The constant sales messages ruined the experience for many viewers. Were you one of them? Now, think about how you market your business. Are you bombarding your audience with sales messages? Increasingly, consumers are looking for value. That doesn't mean you shouldn't include sales messages, but if you aren't delivering value, it will be much harder to keep your customer tuned into your message.

Stakeholder buy-in is crucial for success

The Rio Olympics have been plagued by protests from angry Brazilians. Brazil is in the middle of a deep recession and there have been allegations of corruption in the government. As the events began, protesters were at the airport with signs reading "Welcome to Hell", as the world watches on television. This unrest has overshadowed the games and may be part of the reason that ratings are down from 2012. The Brazilian government and the Olympic committee failed to consider the stakeholders within the country. Are you failing to consider your own stakeholders? Family is critical to the success of your business. If you do not have family buy-in, it is difficult to run your business, let alone grow it. Having a support system in place, even if it is just to allow you some quiet time to work, greatly improves your ability to focus on your business when you need to so you can have more time with your family. You can be a successful business owner and enjoy your family if you allow them to be part of your success strategy.

Success does not happen overnight

As you watch the stories of the Olympic athletes, you see how hard they have worked, many from a very young age. These athletes have put in tens of thousands of hours training and studying to get to these two weeks. It doesn't happen over night. They didn't wake up a few months ago and say, "Well, I guess I'll start swimming so I can make the Olympics this year." Building a business takes hard work. Even when people pop onto the scene, there have been years, sometimes decades of learning, planning, testing, and perseverance. The typical "overnight success story" takes five to seven years to build. Many times, we do not see that part of the story. We encourage you to research one of your favorite business people. How long did it take for him/her to achieve that success? How did he/she stumble along the way? The path to success if full of trial and error. Hard work is one component; making good decisions and learning from our mistakes is the other. Working really hard at the wrong things will not make you successful. Making corrections as you go will increase your chances of success.

Success requires a team

Even in solo sports, each athlete has a team of coaches, trainers, and other athletes standing with them. Many solo athletes train with others. This support network contributes to his/her success. As small business owners, we often feel we must go alone. The most successful business owners build a team around themselves. Just like Olympic athletes, we need a team. This might be an informal team, like your spouse helping you fill orders during busy season. You might have a virtual assistant or staff help you with tasks in your business. You might hire professionals to build your website, edit your book, or design your logo.  Having a team to help you with your business, especially in those areas in which we do not excel, will help you grow your business faster. A team can even be a supportive group on social media or a mastermind group. Having a team to bounce ideas off or to help support you when you need it is a critical part of success. Looking for a supportive group on Facebook? Check out the Small Biz Life Community. It's full of small business owners who can help and support you on your journey.

Taxes are everywhere but planning can help

U.S. athletes who win Olympic medals also receive a small cash prize from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Those cash prizes, not surprisingly, are subject to income taxes. Most athletes treat their activity like a business, giving them the ability to write off travel, training, and other expenses off against these prizes. It takes planning and tracking, but it will help minimize the impact of taxes. Just like these athletes, when you have income, it is subject to takes. Knowing which expenses you can deduct from this income can save you a lot in taxes. Talk to a tax professional to see what is deductible for your business so you know what to track and what records you need to keep. One deduction that most small business owners are terrible at tracking is mileage. MileIQ makes it so easy to track your mileage and you'll never miss another business related trip. Check out the free trial and if you decide to buy, you can use promo code SMALLBIZLIFE20 to save 20% off your subscription. This app paid for itself in the first month we used it.

What have you learned from the Olympics?

Share your comments below.

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