3 Things Entrepreneurs can learn from Bahamian Olympic Gold Medalist Shauna Miller

The Rio games have been eventful to say the least. Doping controversies, safety in the Olympic village, and of course historic records being shattered (really Wayde?). That’s why every four years we glue ourselves to the couch to see who, in spite of it all, rises above to make that podium. And as entrepreneurs, we have a lot to learn by watching these dedicated athletes give their all for a shot at immortality. Case in point, Shaunae Miller, the Bahamian runner that was step-in-step with arguably the best women’s Track & Field athlete in history until a headlong dive in the final meters of a memorable lap in Olympic Stadium. At the end of the night, Allyson Felix cemented her impact in the annals of women’s sport, passing Jackie Joyner-Kersee as track’s most decorated female athlete but it was Miller who made all the difference. Here are 3 reasons why (and how they apply to your business):

Clarity

“The only thing going through my mind was I have to get the gold medal.” Miller collapsed on the floor, lungs no doubt burning, waiting for the results of the biggest race of her life. She knew her end goal and kept it top of mind. If you’re struggling in your business, whether it’s to get more sales or more clients, it helps to go back to your “why”. Having clarity of purpose allows you to outline the steps that get you to those goals and to adjust even when things go slightly off book. I can’t say for sure, but I doubt Shaunae Miller trained to dive at the end. But she did train — incessantly. She knew who she was going up against and prepared accordingly. And that allowed good instincts to take over when it mattered the most.

Preparation

She’s 6'1". She can make up her fair share of ground. But her genetic gift is only amplified by proper preparation. She won silver in Beijing, had a disappointing 2012, and came to Rio dialed in. If you hope to improve your business (or to bounce back), you have to lay the right foundation. Once you have your end goal, think about what resources you need, what systems you should implement and how much time it’ll take to build out a platform that you can run on. Should you be using email marketing more frequently and strategically? Hint: yes! Are you taking advantage of social media or using influencer marketing? Would brand partnerships be favorable to draw new eyes to your site? Create a competitor matrix that keeps you abreast of what’s going on in your industry but also do a deep dive into your customer avatar so you can provide as much value as possible. Preparation is what makes the big moments worth it because most successful people aren’t surprised by their success.

Desperation

She dove. I actually missed this race because I was cooking dinner. Can you believe it? For what it’s worth, it turned out great but when my wife shared the results, I went right to the replay of the race — incredulous as ever. “She dove? No way!” And of course, this is not the first dive. We saw it in the men’s final in ’08 and a qualifier this year. But you still don’t expect it. And that’s what makes it so exciting! As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly asked to beat the odds, to bet big, to take risks. And you have to judge whether a risk is worth it, for your business, your customers, your team and your family. Timing that dive was a 50/50 shot at gold… at best. She might’ve trip and ended up in third, or worse yet, missed the podium altogether. But with one chance, she decided to go big. When it comes to your business, you have to have the same mentality. In many cases, especially in e-commerce, you have once chance to resonate with a new customer, one chance to get them to stick around long enough to discover how great your products really are. So why not pull out all the stops? After all the strategy had been implemented, there was just enough gas in the tank to make a big play. And the dividends are historical. It is the Olympics after all.

Thierry Augustin is an e-commerce brand strategist and helps e-commerce entrepreneurs attract, engage and retain customers. He shares practical branding and marketing advice on his business blog. Download ‘E-Commerce Success’ the ultimate guide to making sales online for free here.

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