Do Olympians quit, work harder or work different?

Over the next several weeks, people will win (or lose) an Olympic medal by a thousandth of a second.

As we’ve discussed earlier this week (re: the coasting swimmer) and in the past (re: the 212th degree, slight edge stuff), what makes a difference between being #1 and #2 is often trivial – if not unnoticed – in the eyes of the typical observer.

Yet to the Olympic athlete, dropping that .10 of a second in the 200 meter backstroke means weeks or months of hard work combined with just the right touch of luck (luck = preparation + opportunity) at the right time.

That same observer might wonder “Why bother?”, because they aren’t an Olympic-class athlete.

As you might expect, the same thing happens in business.

You might fight (figuratively) for years to reach the top 10 in your market, or to reach #1. You might spend a decade at #2, despite blistering rates of growth, you still find that you’re working like a coal miner to get past the competitor at number 1.

You aren’t going to quit simply because you seem to be stuck at #2, are you?

Instead, you might just not worry about your numeric market position and spend your time trying to take better care of your clientele, both product and service-wise. In fact, that just might push your business to #1. Funny how that stuff happens.

Earlier this week, some of you probably thought I was beating up on Amanda for quitting, when the fact of the matter is that I was hoping that she was just taking a temporary break from part of her business for the RIGHT reasons (“right” is relative, in this case).

The point of the discussion was to provoke Amanda (and the rest of you) to think about it a little harder before quitting.

Surely at some peak moment of frustration in the last umpteen years, many of the athletes currently in Beijing considered quitting – even for a brief moment. But they didn’t. The only ones who quit – aren’t in China right now.

As a business owner you’ll face things that just make you nuts and for a brief moment, they’ll make you think “I should just hang it up”.

After hearing a description of Amanda’s detailed, hand-crafted candles, all sorts of ideas were floating around regarding collaboration with party planners and caterers, much less corporate gifts,centerpieces for shower, weddings and corporate events, holiday specialties, and eventually, it made me think of a candle-esque version of Duff Goldman’s cake business (he’s the Ace of Cakes guy from Food Network).

Duff is “just a baker”, like Amanda is “just a candlestick maker”. Positioning is critical.

Those are the kinds of things you need to keep in mind when deciding whether it’s time to quit, or time to look at your business a little differently.

Even if your business isn’t struggling, and new competitors aren’t beating you up, it never hurts to be looking – and thinking – really hard for new niches for your product and new people to show the great value you deliver.

PS: I understand Amanda now has a little help in her corner, so don’t be surprised if she comes out swinging before too long.

One thought on “Do Olympians quit, work harder or work different?”

  1. Agreed. Quitting for the wrong reasons and without truly being honest with yourself is just setup for future failure. I hope Amanda takes advantage of the ideas, thoughts, and help and creates a gold medal candle company. I would love to hear from Amanda via comments, etc.

    -Dan

    Dans last blog post..Dressing Down for Success

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