Our Olympic challenge: Smarter, cheaper, more profitable

Feeling a little rundown this morning? Is tiredness threatening to overcome you? Do you have a sudden fascination with fencing statistics? Have you become an overnight expert in European handball or archery?

Don’t worry – you’ve just got Olympics fever.

All around Australia, thousands of entrepreneurs and workers will be spending their evenings (and early mornings) watching countless hours of sports that they usually would never watch. But hey, if there’s going to be 15 hours of artistic gymnastics on overnight, you’ve just got to watch, don’t you!

Unfortunately, this Olympics fever does have a dark side. Thousands of hours of productivity could be lost over the coming fortnight, as bleary-eyed workers daydream and long conversations about the merits of the clean and jerk take place around office water coolers.

But never fear. In order to combat the potential for an Olympic-sized productivity drain, SmartCompany has stepped up with its own Olympic challenge.

As an entrepreneur knows, running a business means you have to be a great all-rounder – part strategist, part HR manager, part CFO, part logistics manager and plenty of parts beyond.

In the Olympic Games, athletic all-rounders are celebrated with a track and field event called the decathlon, which sees the contestants tested over events including the 100 metres sprint, the javelin, the 1,500 metres, the high jump and the hurdles.

So we’ve come up with our own decathlon. The SmartCompany Olympic Challenge will run for the next two weeks, with one task set for you and your team each day.

Over the course of the fortnight, our challenge will take in everything from how to run a brainstorming session to how to assess the state of your website, as well as a host of other challenges in between.

It all kicks off today with one of our favourite bloggers, sales expert Sue Barrett. Sue, who is a dedicated athlete herself and sponsor of the Victorian Institute of Sport’s athlete career education program, has tackled the sales version of the 100 metres sprint – the one hour sales blitz.

We think our Olympics challenge is going to be a lot of fun, but we also think it can help you find some great ideas to quickly improve your business performance.

Because whatever you think of the Olympics, you cannot help but admire the athletes involved. I reckon they share many characteristics with Australia’s great entrepreneurs.

Both groups spend years toiling away, often in anonymity and with relatively little support, to hone their skills and improve their performances. The dedication of athletes and entrepreneurs doesn’t always pay well, it doesn’t always make them famous and it doesn’t guarantee success.

But it sure is inspirational.

So don’t let your Olympic spirit by confined to the couch during the London Games – take the SmartCompany Olympic challenge and strive to be smarter, cheaper and more profitable.

James Thomson is a former editor of BRW’s Rich 200 and the publisher of SmartCompany and LeadingCompany.

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