Run your business like an Olympian

Our guest blogger is Olympian Roger Black who talks about the role of fear as a motivator for entrepreneurs and business owners. If you need more advice in facing your business fears we’ve produced loads more fantastic advice on our Discover your Business Potential website.

Roger BlackWhether you are a sportsperson or an entrepreneur, fear can play a key part in driving you forward, says Olympic athlete Roger Black. “Fear, especially in sport, is a great motivator. When you stand behind the line in a big race and you are scared and your heart is pumping that’s good fear, you can harness it.”

Roger and his business partner, fellow Olympic athlete Steve Backley run BackleyBlack, the business training and development consultancy. “Everything we do in our business is about transferring the experience that we have as high-level performers in sport into business.”

But while fear can motivate you, it mustn’t be your main motivation, he says. “It’s good to be a bit scared in business; it means you don’t get complacent. But you have to balance fear of failure against needing to achieve.”

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A positive state of mind is crucial for any entrepreneur, says Roger. “You can have all the talent in the world but if you’ve got the wrong attitude you’re not going to be successful. Starting a business is not easy. Lots of people want to be their own boss but running your own business calls for a very different mental attitude to being an employee. You don’t work regular hours and you have to be ‘on’ all the time.”

For Roger, setting up his own enterprise was a no-brainer. “I can’t imagine working for someone else but that is my character type. I like to be in control. Steve and I both love a challenge. But that’s not necessarily right for everyone.”

If you are thinking of starting your own business, you need to plan and prepare, says Roger. “Learn, learn, learn, before you take a step,” he says.

Roger recommends that any would-be entrepreneur talks to two people before they set up on their own — someone who has been successful and someone for whom it hasn’t worked out. “Success leaves clues. Most people are happy to talk about their experiences and it will give you a clearer picture of what is in store. We consult mentors in our business. You can get very focused on what you are doing and sometimes it helps if someone questions your strategy.”

Having done your homework, you then have to act, says Roger. “It can be dangerous to over-analyse. In the end you’ve just got to do it. In athletics there were always people who could talk a good race and who looked great in training but then you’d always beat them in a race.”