Research reveals that successful Olympic athletes share nine characteristics. While watching the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China I realized that successful entrepreneurs share the same characteristics. Let us examine these characteristics.
Just as an Olympic athlete is dedicated to keeping the body fit and getting and staying at the top of their sport, an entrepreneur must be dedicated to the business and to living the life of an entrepreneur. Passion is what feeds dedication. If there is no passion for the type of service or product you are offering, dedication will eventually wane. Dedication is a constant, everyday thing; successful Olympic athletes do not loose their dedication after the Olympics are over. No, they remain dedicated so they can compete another day. Successful entrepreneurs must remain passionate about their business, day in and day out, even when their feelings are not in agreement.
It would be foolish for an Olympic athlete to even enter competition if they did not have the confidence they could compete successfully and ultimately win.
An entrepreneur must be confident in him- or her-self, the product or service they are offering, and confident in their choice to become an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must have confidence that there is a need for their product or service and that they can effectively build a successful business.
Entrepreneurs are inherently risk takers. That being said, the ability to hold firm in your resolve to start and grow a business in the face of low finances and naysayers requires nerves of steel. When you have a mortgage payment due and do not know where your next client or sale is coming from, you have to be tough not to break. While watching the women’s long distance running during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, my 86-year old mother and I were in awe of the mental toughness and resiliency these women had to have to run for well over an hour. There comes a point where the body is ready to throw in the towel and the mind takes over to help the athlete cross the finish line.
Patience & Persistence
Unfortunately some Olympic athletes suffer injury and have to drop out of a particular competition or the Olympics altogether. Patience and persistence is required to continue conditioning and to continue to hold onto their dream in the face of injury or defeat. I can tell you from experience, successful businesses are not built overnight. There are claims all over the Internet about overnight success in business and while this may hold true for some businesses, this is not the rule of thumb. Patience is required to continue to build a business when you do not seem to be bearing fruit for your efforts. Persistent action is required to build a successful, sustainable business.
This is a biggie, for me especially. The Internet is so rich with opportunity that it can be difficult to focus on one task, goal or project through to completion before jumping onto the next one. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you must focus on what you are trying to accomplish, what is right before you at that moment. Olympic athletes and athletes in general for that matter do not focus on the next game or competition. They focus on winning the competition they are in at the moment. Focus also includes the ability to actually set and achieve goals. Tip: Be sure to completely launch one business before starting another one. It may be tempting to ignore this advice. I made this mistake and it was very difficult to get back on track.
Olympic athletes are in it to win it and as an entrepreneur; you must be in it to win it. Why start a business if you are not willing to compete at the highest level possible? Competing does not require that you tear down your opponent but a competitive spirit will definitely give you an edge. With so many Internet businesses cropping up everyday, entrepreneurs have to find a way to compete and stand out from the crowd.
Strong Work Ethic
My family and friends wonder why they receive emails from me that were sent at 4 a.m. in the morning. The reason is because sometimes that is when I get around to checking and replying to personal email. I find it curious that people will wonder why entrepreneurs work so hard and may even tease them about their work ethic but no one wonders why people bring work home with them from a traditional job. You will find successful Olympic athletes and athletes in general at the basketball court and in the swimming pool long after the crowds and other athletes have left. You will find successful entrepreneurs creating products, updating their website and doing research long after everyone else is gone to bed.
Hope & Optimism
If an Olympic athlete or entrepreneur does not believe they can win, they will not; pure and simple. Belief, unwavering belief, breeds hope and optimism. No matter how hard an athlete trains or how hard an entrepreneur works, if deep down inside their spirit, their gut, they do not believe they can successfully compete, they will fail.
No one knows everything about anything. Olympic athletes have coaches; all professional athletes have coaches. Even if as an entrepreneur you cannot afford a professional business coach, find someone who can mentor you as you build and grow your business. Coaching can come in the form of noticing and emulating how successful entrepreneurs are doing something. I have found that up to a point, successful entrepreneurs will share what made them successful. I say up to a point because many (and rightly so) entrepreneurs are now selling the systems they developed that made them successful. But they also offer a lot of free advice.
Develop or enhance these nine characteristics and it will not be long before you will be the proud owner of a business gold medal which is a business that will allow you to design and live the life of your dreams.