Winning and Losing for Small Business

Today is the official start of the London 2012 Olympics, so as this is the first post of my newly launched blog focused on all things small business and psychological, I thought it would be good to pick up on the Olympics as a theme…

Or more specifically the idea of “winning vs losing” in business.

Over the next couple of weeks the focus for the Olympics is going to be on winning. That’s all that matters, the athletes in whatever discipline must simply WIN …because history will remember the winners, not the losers.

But what about business? What about your small business? Is it about winning at any cost? Is failure simply “not an option”?

What can small business learn from top athletes?

Before I answer that question, let’s have a quick look at business…

This is something I talk about a lot in my PFM program because many small businesses, or to be more accurate, many small business owners feel continuously pummelled by a sense of stuff ‘failing’.

For example…

Not as many sales came in, the advert didn’t work as hoped, the new team member is proving a handful, the website is not generating enough hits, nobody loves me on LinkedIn anymore… 😉

With any of the above and in so many other instances, the small business owner often feels a sense of ‘loss’ or ‘failure’. After all, it’s human nature.

So is that really any different to an athlete?

Well, yes it is, because even though their focus is on winning …it is not their ONLY focus.

It is easy to watch the Olympics, admire those few minutes of amazing performance and remember the Gold medal or shattered World Record – but of course, such success didn’t happen overnight!

Each one of those athletes may have had a natural prowess but they also had an incredible number of hours, days, months, perhaps even years of training in order to make those amazing minutes happen.

And this is where the big lesson for small business comes in…

(and the good news is we’re not necessarily talking about the “hours, days, months and years” part!)

Athletes are always looking to LEARN how to improve.

Failure is not failure, instead it is a lesson in improvement.

Nowadays many top athletes use technology to the full to monitor their performance, a classic example being a high-speed video recording of their efforts…

He or she did not achieve, say, the desired time …and they immediately what to know why that was the case. So they watch and study that video recording, perhaps even in super slow motion, in order to see what their body was doing at every stage.

Quickly they discover the small changes required to increase their performance – and next time they DO achieve their goal.

So what about business? Well…

Here’s how to be a high-performing small business athlete in two easy steps!

When you think about it, everything discussed above can be summarised with two simple ideas. More importantly those same ideas can be applied to any aspect of life, in particular business.

An athlete considers any form of failure as an opportunity for learning. Which means their focus is turned back to improvement and therefore they are less likely to suffer from any sense of “loss”.

Similarly, such high-performers also want to do that learning quickly – which means they are even more likely to stay motivated, because he or she can rapidly realise improvement in their performance.

…and that of course will always make them feel good!

So in conclusion…

What this means for you and your small business is this:

  • There is no “winning or losing”, there is only “winning and learning”
  • Fail fast and learn quickly

I have always aimed to live my life by both of these principles (in fact I’ve often been quoted on the first!) – and for me they hold the secret to business success and happiness.

If “failure” is left as a sense of “loss” then very little good will come from it. Worse still, those feelings of failure can also snowball and motivation to do anything becomes a challenge.

However, if something in your business does not work as planned, then considering it a “lesson” rather than a “failure” makes a HUGE difference. And being able to do that quickly is the icing on the cake!

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

Oh and of course, I’d love to hear what you think and how this can be applied to your small business, so just leave your thoughts and comments below…