Outline your Goals
How will you achieve success if you don’t have a goal to work towards?
Start simple. Pick a long-term objective. Then break down all the short-term targets you’ll need to achieve first.
If your aim is to own a food franchise as big as McDonald’s, then you have to begin with one store. If you can’t begin with one store, then begin with a stand. If you can’t begin with a stand, then start saving your funds.
The point is nobody starts out in the big leagues. Competing in the Olympics is certainly an attainable aspiration – but only after investing considerable time, patience and effort. A first time swimmer would undoubtedly struggle against Thorpie in the 400-metre freestyle. Be sensible in your initial aims.
Only when you’ve laid out the basics of your game plan are you ready to commence training.
Improve your Habits
If your brand is going to take a competitive lead in your field, you need to start implementing some healthy habits into your daily routine.
Gymnasts who train with weights report noticeable improvement in their athletic performance. Runners who make time to warm up before exercising allow their bodies to adapt to sudden physical exertion. Basically, your training routine should include specific habits designed to improve your long-term performance.
An optometrist may only advertise their practice on social media two times per week, but send out fortnightly emails. An online fashion boutique may post to Instagram twice daily, but only run sales at the end of each season.
These habits might initially feel difficult, but the more you put them into practice the easier they’ll become. The easier they become, the further you can advance your ‘strength’ and training.
Respect your Competitors
This is where the true champions stand apart from the sore losers.
Frequent proximity to opponents often stimulates rivalry. In some cases, competition generates excitement and adrenaline, but otherwise rivalry generally causes athletes more harm than good.
Take infamous figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.
After skating as teammates for years, the rivalry for Olympic gold heated up the ice. Sick with envy, Harding orchestrated a secret attack against Kerrigan – hindering her winning chances. As karma would have it, Kerrigan managed to recover in time to take silver. Harding fell on the ice, received a fine for the attack, was stripped of her previous medals, banned from competing in future events and depicted as a villain in the media to boot.
The same principle applies to business. For years Coca Cola and Pepsi were so preoccupied with their own conflict that they failed to notice Red Bull’s steady rise to its current position as America’s number one energy drink.
So what does this teach us?
Play fair. Treat fellow business competitors with respect. Focus on your own agenda.
If you obsess over others you’re likely to damage your own image. If you always compete as a good sport, fans can only admire you for it.
There are two kinds of athletes: those who train to win and those who train to lose. This may seem like an absurdly obvious concept – surely everybody wants to win? – but it isn’t a question of wanting. It’s a question of perception.
Success is merely a case of mind over matter. Those who engage in positive visualisation – using imagination to bring desire to life – are more likely to achieve their goals than those who picture negative outcomes.
Instead of focusing on all the bad things that might happen to your business – complaints, returns, low sales – envision yourself bounding over these hurdles with ease. That way, nobody can trip you up but yourself.
Get in the Game
You’ll never achieve your dream if you never try. Why train like a winner if you’re just going to back down at the starting line?
Put everything you’ve learned along the way into practice and get your business out on the field. Announce the new website. Launch the new product. Run the new campaign.
Either you’ll achieve a win or you’ll experience a false start. And if that happens, there’s nothing to do but keep trying.
Before he became a basketball legend, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. Failure didn’t break him – it made him. FedEx maintained a similar belief in their abilities when, during early infancy, the business almost descended into bankruptcy. Under pressure, founder Frederick W. Smith was able to raise enough money to keep the company afloat. Today the brand generates a total revenue of over $3 billion.
To you, success might be as extravagant as a Benz and a heated swimming pool, or as simple as a few new followers. Cliché as it may be, ultimately it’s better to have tried and persevered than to have spent your life watching from the grandstand.
Work to Maintain your Goal
The brand has been launched. The new products have been released. The race has been run. And the consumer results are in. Whether you scored lower than you hoped or came out on top, your training doesn’t end there.
Professional athletes adhere to their fitness schedule all year round. That schedule may change from season to season or increase in the build up to big events, but constant discipline is required to maintain the power and stamina built.
Depending on your results you may need to alter your long-term plan. Maybe solo competition works to your advantage. Maybe the support of a relay team is required to help get you over the line.
Either way, by putting yourself into the game you will have earned some attention. Now you just have to work to keep it.
Both athletes and entrepreneurs constantly strive for success. You’ve started on the journey to your goal, so keep moving forward. Who knows? Maybe you’ll win gold some day.