Main Street Medalists

Over the last few weeks, people across the world have celebrated their Olympians for their achievements as athletes and ambassadors for their countries. For more than 2,000 years, athletes have been using this stage to display their strength and grace and to inspire and motivate each and every one of us. The road to the Olympics is not a smooth one, as these athletes devote countless hours to perfecting their crafts despite slim odds of success and a knowingness that the chances of prospering financially from their sports are also low.

Olympic journeys are about fulfilling dreams, though. From a young age, most of these athletes have set their minds and bodies to achieving the goal of qualifying for, and competing at, the Olympic Games. Supported by their families who have sacrificed their time and provided much-needed encouragement, these athletes have worked hard in order to have the chance to live out their dreams.

From this perspective, small business owners are not so different from Olympians. Each and every minute of work that they put in represents an effort to inch closer to fulfilling their oft-daunting dreams. These men and women display similar levels of pride and devotion to their craft as elite athletes, risking everything in order to bring their visions to fruition (in this case, building their businesses). Often unfunded and unsupported, which are not unfamiliar problems for many Olympians, these business owners display a constant drive to succeed.

If medals were awarded for supporting the American economy, small business owners would get the gold; they employ 57% of the country's private workforce, and astoundingly 60% to 80% of all new jobs come from small businesses.

Every major company out there today was once a small business.  And just like Olympian athletes, small businesses are not born; they are made.

If you aren’t convinced of the similarities between Olympians and small business owners, here are 7 traits they have in common:      

1. Passion – This is the crux behind both groups’ success. Athletes and business owners both express their passion differently, but share the commonality of devoting themselves to the fulfillment of their dreams and the pursuit of excellence.

2. Planning – It’s no secret- success for both groups is not easy to come by. The odds are against them, which means that the ability to make and execute plans is integral to their success. Whether we are talking about a training plan, a race strategy, or a business plan, the vision that these individuals have is what allows them to persevere when others don’t believe in them.

3. Consistency / Discipline – For these groups to be successful over time, they must be consistent in their efforts and in their results. Work ethic is what separates them from the rest and allows them to get up every day and push themselves to achieve their goals.

4. Embracing Failure – Olympians and business owners face daunting odds and immeasurable adversity over the course of their careers. Although they may not win all of their battles, they must find ways to embrace failure and learn from their mistakes.

5. Team work – Cliché as it may be, there really is no “I” in success. No matter the sport, no matter the company, a business owner/athlete can’t succeed alone. At the end of the day, their success is highly dependent on those around them, whether it be their coaches, coworkers, employees, families, or friends.

6. Strength and endurance- Although medals are won in a flash during the Olympics, they require countless hours of work and training. Success in a small business is also a true marathon. Athletes and business owners have to be strong physically, mentally, and emotionally to endure the many obstacles obscuring their paths to success.

7. Community Entrenchment -   Olympic athletes and small business owners represent their families, neighborhoods, and countries. When an Olympian wins, his or her community at home shares in the joy and glory of victory. The same can be said about a small business, which has a direct correlation to the health of its community, and owes a lot of its success to those in it.

Towns across America are celebrating our Olympians for fulfilling their dreams as they come home from Rio. In doing so, let's not forget about our other champions, though, as small business owners are also putting in countless hours each day to make their dreams realities.