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The Olympic spirit

We're in the grips of Olympic fever. I did my fair share of watching over the weekend both on television and live: the men's and women's road cycling races came past fairly close to our house and we turned out with most of the neighbourhood to watch. The women's race seemed particularly tough as the rain was torrential. The last cyclist came past a good distance after the second from last. I gave her as good a cheer as I'd given the first. My very young daughter asked with the innocence that only the young can muster: "Why are you cheering for her?"

Every time I see someone come last at the Olympics I am reminded of what a fantastic achievement it is just to have got to the start line. I had promised my daughter that we were going to watch "the fastest bicycle riders in the world". Even though that last cyclist was at the back of the field, she was still one of the fastest her country could put forward.

I think it is like that with business also. I've been involved in several new ventures, ranging from new product launches to complete startups. We've all seen the statistics of how many of them fail. But I've seen how much work goes into getting them to the start line. It's an Olympic effort. Yes, many new ventures fail, but if you don't put in the effort, if you don't try, if you don't put everything you've got into it, you don't even get to the start line.

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