The Similarities Between Successful Entrepreneurs and Athletes
“I’m alway amazed why the business community doesn’t hire more athletes. Society seems to perceive athletes and business people as polar opposites. We are driven.” – Kai Bjorn
Starting out in business is similar to starting out in sports. Looking to how your predecessors won the game – or big business deal – is the best way to learn. When I started as the Canadian Director, keeping BNI’s ex-owner Don Morgan, was the best decision I could’ve made. He built the business up over the past 23 years and it made for a seamless transition, not mention a built-in mentorship.
Being adaptable and driven, along with looking to your teammates for help along the way also contribute to success. I often speak with France and India’s National Directors, as BNI has been very successful in both of those countries. They offer great advice based in real world experience of testing and measuring results, and while not everything translates in the different contexts, having mentors will help us reach our goals faster.
Athletes are 100% focused on their goals. When starting a business, it’s important to clearly outline what you want to do, and the steps you need to take to achieve it. Do you want to make 100K? 200K? Each BNI member measures their contributions – the number of one-to-one meetings we conduct, visitors we bring, referrals we pass on, and closed business dollars – to help keep us accountable to our goals. When we reach our goals, we are successful. Goal accountability is part –and arguably the biggest part – of the value we offer our members.
A Clear Focus Helps a Business Succeed
It’s important not to take on too much at a time. Pay attention to the details. To become successful, you can’t wear 30 hats at once and expect everything to come out perfectly, even though you may have to when you first start out. But as you progress delegating tasks will contribute to a better outcome in the long run through better time management.
Athletes prepare for the big game in every aspect of their life, from diet, climate acclimation, to travel arrangements and equipment checks. In business, the same diligence in preparedness is crucial. Check: is my laptop not working properly? Did I bring an alternate presentation solution if my laptop doesn’t work, such as a USB stick or smartphone. Robert Gervais from Corporate Connections trains people to eat before you go into a meeting. If you’re busy eating, you’re not actively listening to what’s going on around you; your head is down and you’re missing the important details.
My Big, Hairy Audacious Goal of 17,000 members requires serious goal orientation and drive. Being goal-orientated gives that one single focus and you’re more prepared to hit that target. The BNI VCP referral process was developed with this kind of focus in mind. Visibility: put in the work of showing up to meetings, partake in meaningful one-to-one meetings with other members –people know you and what you do. Credibility: doing business with members that leads to first-hand knowledge and mutual respect –people know you and what you do and that you’re good at it. And Profitability: offer and receive quality referrals –people know you, what you do, know you are good at it and are willing to help you in some way. Basically, be a team player and profitability through these relationships will fall into place.
Reviewing your game on a regular basis will lead you to future success; both in sports and in business. Ask yourself: where am I weak? What angle do I need to take or how many steps to become proficient–as an athlete, and as an entrepreneur. What do I need to do to finish? We have goals in BNI: we need to bring visitors, we need to give referrals, and we need to record our results to make sure we’re on track. These goals lead to profitability.
Keep your eye on your goals and follow these two main accountability steps to avoid business pitfalls:
1. Know where you are, and where you’re going. If you don’t measure your effectiveness on a regular basis, you run the risk of losing sight of your goals.
2. Having a coach to mentor you through ego can go a long way to success. Listen, adjust, and say your thank you’s.
I had a successful mentor when I was an athlete and he said, “Pick one thing and do it well.” As soon as we focus on a clearly defined goal, the rest will fall into place. Have convictions and stick to them. Being focused, goal-oriented, a team player and accountable for your actions will all boost your success level and the bottom line; profitability.
BNI ’s mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.
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