What the Olympics have in common with [insert meme here]

February 24, 2014

Olympics+Closing+Ceremony+M2lzqXT4gDSlJudging from the number of articles we’ve recently read about “What the Olympics have in common with [insert meme here],” we’re inclined to conclude that it might be a lazy way for a columnist to hit a deadline.  And as reluctant as we might be to resort to laziness, we do like to please our readers – and our readers like sports.

So… from the many pieces about the Olympics and entrepreneurship we’ve chosen one similarity, one difference, and one curiosity to share here:

“Mike” at crowdspring thinks that both snowboarders and entrepreneurs ought to worry less about the idea and more about the execution:

Snowboarders often steal each other’s tricks, but when they do it becomes about who can perform that kicker, stalefish or roast beef to perfection. Businesses, too, do not always have to be launched with a completely original idea, but if a new entrant in an existing market hopes to gain share, they had better make up for the lack of originality with a more perfect execution.

While we do retain some interest in hearing about the idea – the details in the pitch reveal important things about the entrepreneur  – we agree about the greater importance of execution as well as some of the intangibles:   integritytransparency, trustworthiness, enthusiasm and tenacity, self-awareness, and flexible persistence.

Naveen Jain, writing at Inc magazine, sees a critical difference between entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes:

What separates sports from entrepreneurism, however, is that in business we constantly have to overcome undefined and unpredictable challenges. Athletes train for specific events and conditions, whereas entrepreneurs generally have little idea what they will encounter along the way.

We once peered inside the mind of great entrepreneurs and found the same trait, termed “effectual reasoning” by Professor Saras Sarasvathy (of the Darden School of Business), who likened great entrepreneurs to Iron Chefs,  “at their best when presented with an assortment of motley ingredients and challenged to whip up whatever dish expediency and imagination suggest.”
Perhaps more as a matter of curiosity than as any particular lesson to be drawn, Raymond Keating at the SBE Council mentions there are different means of organizing and financing for athletes to get to the Olympics:
(T)ake note of the athletes and their respective stories. I think you will find that they are, in fact, entrepreneurs. Some work in small businesses with a dedicated team. Others are in partnerships, and many are effectively sole proprietors. They are the owners, operators and risk takers of their sports careers, and they work to become the best in their respective fields. Indeed, in certain ways, part of the Olympic spirit is the spirit of entrepreneurship.
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