The Olympic games are a once in a lifetime opportunity for most athletes. As Ryan Millar, a gold medalist from the 2008 U.S. Men's Volleyball team, writes, "the path you take lays the groundwork for greatness."
As a startup leader and entrepreneur, the responsibility falls on you for laying the "groundwork for greatness". The success or failure of your company depends on the work of your founding team.
While there are no gold medals in business, there are bountiful rewards.
But all the planning and preparation in the world won't guarantee you'll come out on top in every situation. The Rio Olympics have shown the world there's much more to winning the gold medal.
Here are 10 ways running a startup is just like the Olympics.
1. 10X Everything
One of the best examples of going 10X is Simone Biles. She won five medals in the Rio games: four gold and one bronze. Across all sports, the U.S. team took home a whopping 121 medals. Talk about 10X!
2. Believe in Yourself
You must have the determination to go for your dream. Katinka Hosszu, the "Iron Lady" swimmer from Hungary, shattered a world record and won three gold plus one silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
And after setting the new world record, she said, "I'm already thinking about how I can go faster."
3. Build the Right Team
The U.S. Men's Basketball team is the most successful team in international competition, winning medals in all 18 of the Olympic games it's competed in. 15 of those are gold.
The "Dream Team" of professional NBA players is successful because of the way they play together. Hiring the right team is essential for startups. Teamwork truly does make the dream work.
4. Remember Every Detail Matters
The lies Ryan Lochte told around his alleged robbery at gunpoint, the Olympic pool turning green due to a chemical imbalance and a list of other missteps will forever define the Rio Olympics.
In the startup world, events like this can cause your business to never recover. Thinking through every "what if" scenario can help prepare you and your team to gain control of any situation.
5. Work Hard When No One Else is Looking
"You just need to stick to doing what's best for you as well as trusting yourself and the choices you make," she says.
6. Laser-Focus on Your Passion
The slogan for the Rio Olympics is "Viva sua paixão!" or "Live your passion!"
You must have a sincere passion for your work if you're running a startup. If you don't have that passion, then the game is already over.
7. Find the Right Coach
Every great athlete has a coach, someone who has an inherent knowledge of the sport to help them train, set goals, and achieve them. But coaches aren't just for athletes.
Having a coach, especially as a startup, can help immensely...even if you only meet for a few minutes every month.
8. Cope with Failure
Failure is inevitable. As a startup founder, you'll have every failure come back on you. Great leaders take responsibility when things don't go as planned.
An example from the games this year is Serena and Venus Williams, who have won the women's doubles in the Olympics three times but lost in the first round at Rio.
But attitude is everything, as Serena said after the loss, "We had a chance to compete for our country, we did the best that we can. We had a blast out there."
9. Get Funding for Your Dream
Olympic athletes spend so much time training that it's their full-time job. Startup founders are the same way. We're slammed all the time and some days we're so busy we forget to breathe!
10. Have a Vision for the Future
Michael Phelps has won the most medals in Olympic history (28 overall and 23 gold) but after the 2012 Olympics in London, Phelps announced he was retiring from swimming. Then in 2014, he announced he was ending his retirement, coming back to rack up in Rio.
Goals are like gold in business. Phelps's story shows how leaders don't settle once we've reached a goal. We use past achievements to set higher goals for the future.