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Small Business Briefing

What figure skaters can teach small business owners Add to ...

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Lessons from the ice

On this day in 1994, 24-year-old Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a mystery assailant brandishing a metal crowbar, and was forced to withdraw from the U.S. national championships in Detroit.

The incident was arranged and carried out by associates of 23-year-old Tonya Harding, who went on with the competition. But it was Ms. Kerrigan who had the last laugh. Just seven weeks after the attack, she skated what she considered to be the best two performances of her life, winning the silver medal in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. Ms. Harding, on the other hand, performed poorly and was eventually stripped of her national title and banned from the U.S. figure skating association for life.

While this infamous event bared the dark and unseemly side of figure skating, small business owners can learn some valuable lessons from the athletes who devote their lives to the sport:

1. Payoff takes a lot of time and effort. Skaters train for years and years, spending hours on the ice perfecting their routines. Their commitment reminds us that "sometimes it's a long slog before you hard work will be recognized."

2. Give it your best, even if you land on your butt. Sometimes things go wrong and a skater falls (which basically smashes their medal hopes), but somehow she gets up and finishes the routine. Businesses, too, face setbacks. It's those who "fail fast" and rebound that end up being successful.

3. Work through the pain. Whether it's a broken ankle or a tanking economy, figure skaters and small business owners alike have to continue through tough times.

4. Be gracious to your competitors. Tonya Harding disregarded this lesson and ended up having to pay a $100,000 fine and spending three years on probation. Sure, business can be cutthroat, but at the end of the day, many small business owners face the same problems and can learn a lot from similar experiences.

5. Conquer your jitters. Sometimes figure skaters have less than five minutes to perform their routines, which is an incredible amount of pressure to cope with. But those who can overcome their biggest fears end up being able to tackle anything.

Don't ignore Google+.

While Google's answer to Facebook isn't exactly mainstream yet, here are a few reasons why your business shouldn't ignore it. One of the most obvious opportunities that Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, points out is the fact that it's heavily indexed by Google's search engine, which means your business will be easier to find.

How to sell more of everything.

Every small business owner wants to sell more. Here are seven secrets retailers can do to increase their sales.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Montreal Franchise Show

The National Franchise and Business Opportunities Show invites consumers wanting to start their own business to attend this exciting, upcoming two-day event starting Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. located at Place Bonaventure.

Connections For Business - Cloud Computing

On Jan. 10, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the World Trade Centre Edmonton, get your head in the clouds and learn how utilizing cloud computing can unlock your organization’s potential.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Why more small businesses should consider the cloud

In this video, Duncan Stewart, director of research at Deloitte Canada, says that, while cloud computing is not the answer for every small business, the payback can be tremendous.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Fight the urge to partner with people like you

There are benefits to partnering with people of different ages and life stages.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

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