5 Business Lessons You Can Learn From Olympic Athletes

Time after time, Olympians have shown admirable dedication and skills that keep them at the top of their game. A passion for greatness allows them to surmount any obstacle as they look forward to the ultimate prize. As a small business owner, you can take many valuable lessons from athletes to maximize your company’s success.

Amongst all the fanfare associated with Olympics, let’s not forget that the Olympics’ reach goes beyond just sports. There are key lessons founders, investors and entrepreneurs can learn from these world class athletes. Here are 5 business lessons you can learn from Olympic athletes.

1. Keep Setting New Goals

An athlete doesn’t consider a personal record (or PR) a static point in time. Every time he or she achieves a PR, a new one is immediately set. As an entrepreneur, success comes from stretching just a little farther than you think is possible. When you achieve one goal, immediately set another. Having that clarity about the desired outcome keeps you focused when everything else can feel like it’s in flux.

2. Have The Right Mindset

Generally speaking, other small business owners have received the same training as you. However, many startups fail because their leaders lack the right mindset. While failure can be blamed on various unforeseen scenarios, having the right mindset about your small business can help you get out of particularly difficult situations. This is the competitive advantage that forces you to think outside the box and put your best resources to work. Likewise, only the most determined Olympic athletes succeed through long hours of training. The Olympic champions are the ones that have the right mindset on and off the competitive field.

3. Enjoy Your Success 

When athletes win in their respective games, they enjoy their success. In a fast paced environment entrepreneurs are under pressure to quickly move to the next thing. It is important for entrepreneurs to pause and acknowledge their achievements along the way. Smelling the roses is just as important as creating them. Never forget to celebrate your little wins as you go for gold in your journey!

4. Stop Saying Yes. Start Being Strategic.

For an Olympic athlete, the demands on their time outside of training seem to have no end. They are having appearances, catering to the needs of teammates, media requests, family obligations and so much more. For an entrepreneur starting out, it’s hard to say no, especially in the beginning.

Saying “yes,” isn’t always a bad thing, of course. However, take time to think about how the request and filling it will help your business achieve its goals. Will the request distract from building your business? Is saying yes a strategic step to achieving your desired outcome? These are key questions you must answer to achieve success long-term.

5. Winning

When it comes right down to it, athletics, just like business, is about success and winning is the ultimate expression of success in business and in sports. We measure our businesses against the competition, but also we measure success through our own internal accounting of sales, profitability, efficiency and countless other metrics. Athletes also measure themselves by tracking performance metrics, personal best measurements and progress.

However, at the end of the day they measure themselves by whether or not they won their event, their game or their medal. Like the great athletes, entrepreneurs must always maintain a competitive attitude and a fierce determination to win.


It shouldn’t be surprising that many Olympic athletes are small business owners and entrepreneurs outside their sports. Many of the skills that propel athletes to success also serve them well as entrepreneurs. In this post, I shared with you 5 business lessons you can learn from Olympic athletes.

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