The month of February is chock full of special events, but this year as the world sets its sights on South Korea, I can’t help but thinking about how business relates to the Olympics in particular. Running a business is a lot like competing in athletics. It takes perseverance, practice, a great team, and a whole lot of passion. And although “winning” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, there are some universal ideas that come to mind.

  1. You need a loyal fan base. When things are going great, but even more so when things aren’t the best, a cheering squad can be your biggest asset. “Mind over matter,” and not “sweating the small stuff,” are a lot more possible if you are surrounded by people who believe in what you do (or what you sell). I’ve written about brand advocates before, but that’s only because they’re so valuable. Do you have customers who always come through? Are they first in line when you have new merchandise? Do they call stick with you even when your service or prices waiver? Consumers these days want a quality experience to accompany their quality products and services. So, if you nurture your relationships with your repeat clients, you’re likely to get a whole lot more than their individual praises.
  2. Share your passion. The official motto of the 2018 Winter Olympics is “Passion. Connected.” And, there’s no arguing that these athlete’s make succeeding at their sport a job. But how can you, as a company representative, share your passion for what you do? Some companies do it better than others, and I’ve found that the best ones put it out there for all to see. I love Apple’s 20+ year old motto, “Think Different.” With two words they’ve communicated what they care about. It sets the tone for their organization internally and gives the consumer a clear picture of who they are. Your passion may not be easily boiled down to a simple phrase, but you can use existing mediums (like signage and social media) to share what you care about. It’s a great way to build your brand and attract people who will appreciate it.
  3. Invest in the team. Businesses who are highly-regarded for their success are often also highly-regarded for their commitment to their employees. It’s no surprise that employers list “workforce” as their #1 issue on every economic development survey. I think it’s because workforce is one of the true unknowns when running a business. Like consumer behavior, employee behavior is often difficult to predict. When employee productivity is down, business suffers. So, how do you motivate your workers to believe in your brand? Just like in sports, bonding is important for any team. Spend time away from the customers to perfect those soft skills. Start with being polite, punctual, and professional. These skills aren’t necessarily taught by training providers and can mean the difference between having a successful staff or not. Most businesses qualify for some sort of free or reduced-price employee training, too. Efforts like these build a team that works just as hard as you do!
  4. Stick it out. It’s easy to give up when times are tough. In fact, most small businesses fail within the first year because the management team gives up. Sure, there will be hurdles…some may even seem insurmountable. But, there are resources available to help. Maybe you need to reach new customers. Maybe you need to hire the right person to help lead the troops. Perhaps you could just use a hand vetting new ideas and piloting new offerings. Regardless of what it takes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. You just need to persevere. To make this possible it’s important to think of your businesses long-term financial goals, much like you would do with your household finances. How much operating capital would you need if suddenly you couldn’t sell anything? Could you stay open for a month? Three months? How about six? Sustainability planning can help you weather the tough times and ensure your good times don’t get wasted. The State of Louisiana offers programs to assist you in that sort of planning if you need it, too!

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your business, but we can learn a lot from the athletes we see dominating our television screens. Like them, it may often take you many failed attempts to get where you need to be. Victory may not come easy, but by using these tips you can definitely increase your likelihood for victory.

If you need assistance winning gold in 2018, let us know and we’ll be happy to help. Call (337) 740-0433 or visit our website at www.developvermilion.org for resources and instructions on setting up an appointment.

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