Five Things Our Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Olympics

The article is written by Mano Manoharan, Business Consultant to the creative sector, London

The 2012 London Olympics finally overbut the games are not quite finished.

As the Olympic flame went out a new race began. Well more of a scramble really.

Everyone from sports bodies to academics, journalists and politicians, began the scramble to draw meaningful lessons from the universally acclaimed games, that can be applied not just to sport, but to aspects of our lives well beyond.

One area that appears to have been ignored thus far, but where lessons can be definitely learnt, is businessparticularly those businesses that depend on people as their main assetlets call them ‘creative’ businesses.

For Entrepreneurs, competing daily to build their businesses (or maybe just survive), the inspirational lessons of the Games could provide a real and tangible economic legacy.

So here are 5 lessons from the London Olympics that Entrepreneurs running Creative businesses should consider:

 1. Enthusiasm is infectiousbut winning more so.

Team GB is the shining example of how success in one sport inspired others to new heights of performance in their own discipline.

So, do you need to consider new and fresh ways to generate and channel enthusiasm throughout your business to achieve that virtuous circle of success?

2. Individual excellence will always be enhanced by good planning.

Team GBs Cycling 10-year master plan has to be the master class in the benefits of long term strategic planning.

How’s your master plan looking?! (It doesn’t have to be ‘War and Peace’… some vision is better than no vision)

3. Individual excellence will be enhanced by teamwork.

Again, Team GBs Cyclists, Chris Hoy and Laura Trott, needed all those technical backroom boys and girls to give them that «aggregation of marginal increments» that pushed them into gold.

So, do you really involve and give sufficient credit to the ‘non-creatives’ in your business—your technical staff? Are you losing out on “marginal increments” in creative improvement—that is so often the thin line between winning and losing in business because of this neglect?

4. Very talented people still need Coaches and Advisors to help them be the best.

Andy Murray and Mo Farah have acknowledged step changes in their performance as a consequence of their Coaches contributionssometimes obvious, sometimes more subtle. Alberto Salazar introduced Mo to the benefits of underwater treadmills in order to improve his strength. Coaches and Advisors can also remove the ‘distractions’ of business allowing the talent to focus on what they are really good at. Was ‘freeing’ Murray’s mind of his demons Ivan Lendl’s major contribution to Murray’s recent surge in form?

So are you being distracted by business demons that could be ‘exercised’ by a good Coach?

5. If you enjoy what you are doing,  it helps.

Perhaps Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis are the clearest examples of this in action. How much did Victoria Pendleton’s clear desire to retire post Games and put on those Strictly Dancing shoes, impact on her relatively disappointing performance?

If there is a theme or collective thread in all this it is perhaps this:

“If necessity is the mother of inventionthen collective and focussed passion is the father of all business success”.


About the Author

Mano Manoharan (

Ernst & Young Chartered Accountant by training and entrepreneur by instinct. With a career spanning creative enterprises in both the blue-chip and sme sectors.

From General Manager of EMI Music’s International Division through to Consultant/Director/Founder of companies in marketing, TV, hospitality and consumer npd sectors.

Most recently Joint MD and Co owner of ‘Top 20’ UK design agency, LFH.