As an owner of a communications firm, I habitually watch any newsworthy event and evaluate whether that event can be beneficial to any of my clients. I also look to see if there are any lessons to be learned for my own company’s growth. The 2016 Summer Olympics are a prime example: With the final closing ceremony of the Rio Games now in our rearview mirror, we have much to be proud of about, and learn from, Team USA.
Here are five winning takeaways that business owners can use today.
1. Don’t fabricate the truth.
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It may seem obvious: Tell the truth and confront the issue. Many businesses that get in hot water or come face-to-face with a crisis often want to do the exact opposite and not respond.
In today’s age of instant communication and reporting, however, that simply doesn’t work. Just look at swimmer Ryan Lochte.
Lochte's initial story about an "armed robbery" was a great example of why skirting the truth doesn't work and how badly it can backfire. His storytelling not only brought negative media attention, it also hurt his pocketbook when sponsors subsequently dropped him. Businesses that face a crisis should quickly establish a response strategy; respond truthfully; and let their customers know what they plan to do to fix the problem.
2. Women = power.
No other group took home as many medals as the U.S. women's Olympic athletes. Now, more than ever, women in business and sports are demonstrating their strengths and being celebrated for them.
Biz2Credit’s Women in Business 2014 report found that the average earnings of U.S. companies owned by females increased 54 percent year over year, from 2012 to 2013, in comparison to their male counterparts. The media is now following, and interested in, women stories.
Are you a woman in a male-dominated industry that has a story to tell? Women in technology, for instance, has become a hot topic. Does your company fit into this category? Would joining a networking group like the “ Lean In” community Sheryl Sandberg started help grow your business? These are all good questions to explore, and ones that could open up new opportunities that you once overlooked.
3. Capitalize on the moment.
She was able to capitalize on the moment and make headlines while growing her personal brand. Businesses need to be able to move that quickly, as well.
As a business owner, you should take the time to look and make sure your own business story is being told. Identify your voice, and build a program to promote your expertise and unique offerings as a way to grow your business.
4. Preparation matters.
It takes hard work and dedication to be the best. This is never more evident than when you're watching a great athlete do his or her thing.
The lesson here is that each performance reminds us that constant preparation and practice yields better results. Are you doing that in your own business? Practice your sales pitch, and prep for different income scenarios and market changes.
As a personal example, my own business of PR has changed so radically since I started out in the '90s that I have had to prepare and then practice how to get press and media coverage in different ways from what worked in the past. This has meant embracing social media and different communication platforms, like content placement -- and getting good at it. Prep is just as important for you as it is for your clients.
5. America is already great.
Give praise to your team members and notice their strengths. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t or try to be all things to all people.
Know what you are good at, and stick with it. As already mentioned, practice and enhance what you are doing to provide better products or services. Also, congratulate those on your team and those in your circle who are helping you get there. And, in this spirit, thanks to all the U.S. Olympians who made the Rio 2016 Games so great.