How to Prep Your Business Like an Olympian
Training for the Games is a lot like running a startup.
Just as the Winter Olympics come around every four years, so a huge business challenge arrives on the scene every few years, compelling businesses to get fit and prepare or risk extinction.
Remember the Y2K bug? A supposed software fault was going to crash worldwide computer systems as the clock ticked into the year 2000. Businesses spent millions in resources, and time, to counter the threat. Right now, at Integrate, we are working toward the arrival this May of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This will be a game changer for marketers.
Our preparations for it are similar, in many ways, to the preparations going on for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, in Korea, just two days away.
Like these winter Olympics, preparation for GDPR started years ago. Assembling trainers, coaches, physicians, equipment, transport, training camps, contingency plans, the training program and the athletes, of course, is similar to getting researchers, lawyers, marketers, system analysts, software engineers and programmers, sales teams, thought leadership, email funnels and payment methods in place -- as well as sales support, PR and advertising after the fact. Without organization nothing happens.
My Olympic nutritionist always reminds me, "You are what you eat." Teams and coaches go to extreme lengths to make sure the right foods are consumed for the right training. Building stamina and increasing routines to power up results needs a finely regulated balance.
In business, information is our nutrition. Building on each piece of knowledge gleaned, so our clients have the edge, and can comply easily with anything that is thrown at them by government agencies is key to them being able to function properly. Without the right information, channeled the right way, underperformance can be the only result.
In my sport, ski companies spend millions of dollars researching new materials, manufacturing techniques, designs and ideas. They are not alone. Having that edge is what separates the winners from the pack. Having the right equipment, honed to perfection, adjusted precisely, is what will gain those millimeters or milliseconds.
In business, having sub-standard equipment will bankrupt you. From the servers, through the ordering process, the after sales backup and the delivery -- reliable, efficient and effective equipment, well maintained and used properly, will keep your customers happy and add money to your bottom line.
Related: 9 Habits of Olympic Athletes
Nobody ever won an Olympic gold by just showing up. There is a complex rotation of planning and scheduling, taking in not just the performance of the athlete, but his or her competition and rivals, too. A series of competitions against fellow competitors allows comparisons to be made and training to be adjusted. Opposing techniques can then be analyzed and picked apart.
"Reverse engineering" is common in industry -- competitors' products and services are examined closely, exhibitions and seminars are ideal places to scope out the competition, and sequences of planned production, or training improvements and innovations made, to readjust the levels. Businesses should always have one eye on the competition
Maintaining fitness levels and making sure that peak performance kicks in on the right day is one of the major challenges of any Olympian. Peak too early, and the opportunity can be wasted; peak too late, and you might not win that medal.
In business, customer retention can be seen in the same way. Ensuring comprehensive customer health checks will help you stay ahead of renewal. Ignoring the warning signs of churn, and your customers will soon find another vendor. Timing is the key -- and having the right amount of obsession for customer success.
The four-year run up to each Olympics can be exhausting. When all your friends are going to prom and you have to be at a training camp for skiing it can be demoralizing -- especially if things aren't going too well. In sport, as in business, it is important to keep your motivation going and give yourself small rewards for meeting critical targets.
There is a reason countries field Olympic "teams" or "squads." Even in a solo event, like mine, training with, and against, fellow teammates helps motivate and stimulate, and gives you new ideas. Trying to go it alone, or setting yourself apart is never a great plan.
In business, collaboration is equally essential. A major problem to one person, is an easy solution to a team of great talent. Either someone will know -- or a brainstorming session or project meeting will sort it out. Teamwork is a business essential.
Taking a professional approach to every aspect of your preparation is the key. As an individual action, each may not amount to much, but add them together and when the opportunity arises to take part in the challenge, your chances of winning are multiplied many times over.
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