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5 Business Lessons From the Winter Olympics

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on February 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With the Winter Olympics winding down, what are some good business lessons that can be learned from the Sochi games?

Despite fierce competition, the Olympics are meant to bring the international community together. The medalists, of course, are the ones who've succeeded by working hard without resorting to underhanded tactics.

The same can apply to many business situations. So here are five lessons business owners can take away from the Winter Olympics:

  1. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Even if your company faces something negative, you may be able to turn it around and spin it into something positive. For example, the Chobani yogurt company ran into customs issues and couldn't get its products delivered to U.S. athletes in Sochi, The Oregonian reports. Days later, Chobani turned the bad news around by donating thousands of yogurt cups to food pantries in New York City, according to Time. That gave the company a lot of positive media attention and even support from politicians.
  2. Be sportsmanlike. Like Olympic athletes, you're not always going to walk away with the award-winning business deal. However, how you deal with it will speak volumes about your business' credibility. On one hand, you can publicly display a look of disapproval like figure-skater Ashley Wagner, or you can move on gracefully from a loss. For example, if people are bashing your business on your Facebook page, it's often best to take the high road and be courteous and respectful.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. It's unlikely that new business owners are going to score the most coveted client their first day on the job, so like the old saying goes, "practice makes perfect." Each unsuccessful attempt allows you to see where you've went wrong and how to improve. Just like how there will always be another Winter Olympics, there will always be another client or another business opportunity down the road.
  4. Obtain valid visas for employees. Many Russian hockey players are NHL stars in the United States and thus need a proper work visa. The same rules apply if you hire talent from another country. Employment-based visas are granted based on certain categories, including Extraordinary Ability of Aliens and Professional Talent. You may even want to consult with an experienced employment lawyer before hiring foreign workers, to make sure you're doing it right.
  5. Embrace fair competition. Many athletes enjoy playing against strong competitors because they believe it helps improve their own game. The same idea can apply to business competitors. While you may not be able to restrict a former employee from sharing her talents at another company, you can use your competitors' successes to inspire you to make your business better.

Just like it's difficult to achieve a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, it's difficult to maintain a successful business. Hopefully, the lessons from the Sochi Olympics will inspire you to perform at your best.

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