Ian Thorpe on the similarities between training for the Olympics and running a small business

Source: AAP. By Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Training for the Olympics and running a small business are more alike than most people realise, according to swimming champion Ian Thorpe.

The five-time Olympic gold medalist, who also once had his own line of underwear stocked in David Jones department stores, told SmartCompany being a professional athlete and starting your own business both require early mornings and overcoming all odds.

“Small business people have to get up very early in the morning, work a solid day and may be fatigued at the end of the day,” Thorpe says.

“There’s a similarity to that with athletes.”

Thorpe recently got tongues wagging after posting a tweet suggesting he was starting his own pool cleaning company.

However, Thorpey is not diving into the pool cleaning industry any time soon.

Instead, the tweet is part of a campaign by Optus – with the telco hoping to send four small business owners to Rio later this year for the Olympics.

Thorpe told SmartCompany watching world-class athletes will be sure to inspire small business owners – as well as give them a well-earned break from managing all aspects of their company.

“I think our athletes have an incredible ability to inspire people,” Thorpe says.

“Being able to see that sacrifice people have made for that one moment… people in small business can appreciate it. I know most people come back from these things [the Olympics] incredibly inspired and ready for the next stage after that.”

Apart from his own line of underwear, Thorpe also launched a line of jewellery in 2002 through Autore Pearls.

Thorpe says his advice for people wanting to dip their toe into the fashion industry is to do your research.

“Understand and know who your customer is,” Thorpe says.

“When you know those two things, you can maintain your brand integrity and honesty. That’s when brands can become successful.”


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