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August 2016 – Unless you have been living like a hermit, you would have been unable to miss Wayde van Niekerk’s glorious achievement at the Rio Olympics this week, where he obliterated the previous world record of 43.18 seconds set by Michael Johnson for the men’s 400m sprint in 1999 and brought home South Africa’s first gold medal.

As an entrepreneur setting out in the business world, there are some interesting analogies that can be made in terms of learning how the world’s best athletes are able to thrive under the immense pressure of competition.

Have a Game Plan

It’s going to be tough in the beginning; all training is until you get fitter. However, it is important that each entrepreneur knows where they are going and what they want to achieve so that they do not become side-tracked by competitors. Wayde ran in Lane 8, a lane well-known for being unable to see where your competitors are during the race. However, he had a strategy – and that was to focus purely on his race and not his competitors. Your strategy should be flexible but don’t copy your competitors. Always remember why you created your game plan.

Become Mentally Resilient

The ability to excel under crushing pressure is an attribute common to many successful athletes. They are able to maintain their focus and bounce back from obstacles as they have a strong belief in themselves and their ability. Building a company is a bit like a marathon as entrepreneurs need to maintain their pace over an extended period of time. You may even find that, just as Wayde gave an extra push in the second half of his sprint, you may need to work twice as hard when you really feel that you don’t have any more energy to do so. Always run, never walk but reserve a bit of energy for when you may need to up your pace.

Train with Others

Wayde trained for three weeks with another elite athlete, Usain Bolt’s team prior to the Olympics. Training on your own can become lonely and demotivating. Entrepreneurs also require stimulation from networking and collaborating with other like-minded business people and mentors. The Business Exchange hosts a number of business events in order to assist its tenants, who rent office space from them, to network with other successful business people and potential investors.

Embrace the Pain and Celebrate Successes

Athletes may enjoy running and entrepreneurs may enjoy building their business, but it is natural that you are not going to enjoy it every single day! Whether it’s overcast and raining and you have to go and train or your car won’t start and your supplier let you down – you still have to perform in order to become “race-ready”. Wayde was committed and driven; he overcame his pain and is now celebrating a fantastic success. All successful business people will tell you that building a company is not easy, but with the correct strategy, networking opportunities, commitment, discipline and time management – you will reap the benefits and be able to eventually celebrate your successes.

Never Give Up

If Wayde had not remained committed to his goals and his training programme, he would never have come this far. As an entrepreneur, it is vital that you commit yourself to the duration of your race, no matter how far it is. You need to push yourself to the limit and make sure that you meet your daily goals; once you do this, your weekly, monthly and yearly goals will fall into place and you will finally taste success!

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