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This article was originally posted on Medium

In the northeast, the winter months can be cold, gray, and drab. They are usually fraught with a blend of snow (fun!), ice (not fun!), and rain (meh!), with a gray overcast that can gift many people with a vitamin D deficiency and decreased energy.

Instead of running to an island (which I would greatly enjoy!), I decided to hunker down and embrace the wintery splendor. For me, January feels a bit like hibernation mode, where I am to recover from the holidays and focus on my business goals for the coming year. February has now rolled in, with the Lunar New Year (bring on that Tiger energy!) where I am emerging into a more creative space.

As a small business owner, it’s easy to get trapped in the minutia of working IN your business — instead of working ON your business. While that may sound cliché, it is often the case for small business owners. We should take a page out of the Olympic athletes’ playbook. Every two years we are all amazed with the display of talent and skills demonstrated by these elite athletes. Marketers can learn from their self-discipline and dedication to their own brand.

Here are some commonalities.

When marketing your business, nonprofit, or law practice, you need to ensure that not only are your efforts on point, but that you are consistent in your approach. Using the “slap spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” method is not a sound way of approaching a marketing plan. All your marketing efforts should be strategic, with pre-set measurements of success so you can evaluate them and adjust as necessary.

Olympians set measurable goals for themselves for every outing — speed, distance, stamina. I doubt you would see sporadic efforts from three-time-gold medal winning Olympian Shaun White. Channel your inner Olympian and embrace consistency in your marketing.

The Olympics is considered the world’s foremost sports competition — elite athletes performing at their best to bring medals home. Your business is also in competition, and to keep it stay on top, you need to fully understand your competitors.

Who else is serving your industry, providing similar services, or solving your client’s pain points? Effective marketing includes a competitive analysis to properly identify opportunities you may be overlooking. Don’t know where to start? Check out HubSpot’s article, What’s a Competitive Analysis & How Do You Conduct One? for some inspiration.

Marketing requires clear and compelling messaging to be effective. Your potential clients need to understand why your company is the best choice to solve their problems and how you will do it.

It is crucial to understand your customer’s current business landscape and their goals so you can support them with clear and concise messaging. Check out Content and the Marketing Funnel from Moz for more guidance. Clarity of vision, purpose, and action are essential to both Olympic athletes and in marketing your business.

When you think about both marketing and the Olympics, you cannot overlook the importance of teamwork. For athletes, this is more apparent, as they work in tandem to bring forth their best performance. Whether they are collaborating with their coach, team, or partner (have you watched the figure skating pairs?!) — they need to work in unison toward a greater goal.

Take a lesson from them — ensure your whole business is working in tandem toward a higher goal. Marketing, sales, operations, human resources — every team in your business needs to be collaborating to ensure that everyone is focused on the goals of the business.

Working in silos is never helpful and is a fast path to lose revenue and morale. Incorporate more cross-selling, communication, and collaboration in your business and watch your revenue expand. If you are a small business or entrepreneur, you may also consider collaborating with another small business that aligns with your vision to offer your clients expanded services.

Instead of trudging through the winter as if it were a chore, embrace the excitement of the Winter Olympics and bring the athletic spirit to your business. Enjoy the sport, celebrate your wins, learn from your loss, and as they say — remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint!

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