What Can Entrepreneurs Learn From Olympian Athletes?

Reach new heights

News And Articles

Entrepreneurs can Learn from Olympic Athletes

Entrepreneurs can Learn from Olympic Athletes

Table of Contents

Dr Thommie Burger is the Founder of JTB Consulting


Every four years, athletes from around the world gather to show off their physical skills and prowess. For many, the Olympics are the pinnacle of their careers. But what can Entrepreneurs learn from Olympic athletes?

The idea that you have to spend years and years without a certain payoff is true of both. During the first few years after starting your own business you work long hours without making any real money. Like an Olympic athlete who trains for years on end with the primary goal of achieving success in his/her Olympic event, so too does an entrepreneur work for years with the primary aim of establishing a business and receiving the accolades for all the hard work, sweat, tears and effort.

A lot of Olympians are driven by this sort of “I’ll show you” or “I’ll prove myself” idea. As an Olympian, once you prove whatever it is you’re trying to prove and win a medal, everyone really loves you for a week. Then all the media stop calling you. And you’re left with this empty feeling.

Most true entrepreneurs are filled with ambition and have an “I’ll show you” attitude.

I want to explore the connection between small business owners and elite athletics. How can small business owners aspire to be more like Olympic athletes than the thousands of spectators just watching from the stands?


Elite athletes learn that dedication in their training leads to physical improvement. If it takes 10 000 hours to be an expert at a sport, what is the equivalent in business? Small business owners don’t always have a roadmap of what comes next. Often entrepreneurs have no roadmap or training programme and learn as they make mistakes and take risks. A key to business success is agility. Entrepreneurs, who can figure out how to solve a problem, even when they don’t have the muscle memory, will succeed. In contrast, spectators watch problems emerge and anxiously await resolution by others.


There is a relationship between personality and performance. For an athlete, visualising success can be one of the most important aspects of their training. The belief that one can successfully perform a task, or sport-confidence, is a powerful tool. For entrepreneurs, there will always be business challenges; some may seem insurmountable. Self-confidence can work for entrepreneurs as well, to coach doubts or fear of failure. Confidence can be the difference between getting the gold and going home empty-handed. Put in the effort and hard work, and then be confident in yourself, your team, and your business. Quite often, confidence is the thing that keeps entrepreneurs pushing until the next big breakthrough. It’s also infectious. Every small business owner who succeeds sets an example for those who go after them.


In the Olympics, does it matter if an athlete went to Wits or Stellenbosch University? What if they attended an International Business School and obtained an MBA? In a small business, how much does pedigree really matter? Performance is the equaliser. Olympic athletes are very familiar with the high standards set by coaches and judges. It is about their performance trajectory – where they are going, not where they started. Entrepreneurs should embrace their beginnings and move forward with performance on their side. Spectators admire winning athletes and buy their jerseys regardless of their pedigree. So remember, whether you are just only starting your own business or have been working at it for a few years, having agility, confidence and performing at your very best will ensure that you also get a place on the Podium of Business and walk away with the gold medal.


Established in 2006, we have successfully written hundreds of bankable and world-class Business Plans for clients across 25 countries. As South Africa’s Leading Business Plan Company, we are confident that we would be able to assist you too. Kindly note that we also offer “Investor Pitch Decks”, “Excel-based Financial Models”, and “Proposal/Tender Writing Services” in addition to our Custom Business Plan Writing Service. Please visit our Services page for more information.

We look forward to being of service to you. Please feel free to contact our Founder, Dr Thommie Burger, on +27 79 300 8984 should you have any questions. He is also available via email and LinkedIn.

JTB – Your Business Planning Partner.

Share this article…

Recent Articles

SWOT Analysis and 50 Urgent Questions to Ask (Our Free Checklist)

SWOT Analysis and 50 Urgent Questions to Ask (Our Free Checklist)

Every business owner should conduct a regular SWOT Analysis to assess the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to its competition. A SWOT Analysis helps evaluate where a company stands in a competitive market and what steps need to be taken for further strategic planning, helping decision makers draw a future roadmap for the company.

Top 3 Reasons Why A Business Plan Is Essential For SMEs

Top 3 Reasons Why A Business Plan Is Essential For SMEs

For entrepreneurs, especially small businesses, a Business Plan can act as a strategic tool to make informed decisions, especially better planning decisions, and meet short- and long-term business objectives. A business plan is often referred to as a blueprint or roadmap; without it, one can still travel, but with a map, one can reach a destination much quicker and easier. Companies rely on Business Plan Writing Services to keep businesses on track for a more detailed and strategic guide. Let’s look at how having a business plan can help your business in the competitive global market.

How to Hire an Effective Business Consultant

How to Hire an Effective Business Consultant

The role of a Business Consultant is often misunderstood. Some business owners see them as snake oil salesmen only out for their own good. In this blog post, we explore what exactly a business consultant does, how they can help you and some tips on how to find the right one for you.

What we do.

We are South Africa’s leading Business Plan Company providing world-class Professional Business Plans to local and international clients, ensuring total satisfaction at every step. With extensive industry experience and the latest market insights, our qualified team of Business Plan Consultants are the first choice of serious entrepreneurs.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay informed and opt-in for our newsletter via email. We respect your privacy and we never spam.