Running a business

Episode 4: How flexibility and humility can help your entrepreneurial journey

Do you ever look at serial entrepreneurs and wonder what their secret is? There is a recipe for repeat success, but it isn't about being the biggest, baddest business person on the block. In fact, it's the opposite, says Alexandre Bilodeau.

Alexandre went on a mission to find the recipe for serial success so that he could repeat his own triumph as an Olympic athlete. Having won the gold medal for freestyle skiing at the Vancouver Olympics, he was determined to defend the title at the Sochi event four years later. That led him on a quest to find out what separated repeat gold medallists from those who only achieved the title once.

Look forward, not backwards

Speaking with some of the few other Olympic athletes that had successfully defended their titles, He found a constant thread running through those conversations: a lack of complacency. What he learned from these other athletes is that thinking about your last trophy distracts you from winning your next.

"Very few athletes successfully defend their gold medals back-to-back. One common thing among them is that they never saw themselves as Olympic champions during training," he says. Each new day they set out to train as if they don't hold the title and must seize it.

Entrepreneurs can apply the same principles, says Alex, who now advises business people as a senior vice president in a leading venture capital firm. You might have achieved great things yesterday, but your competitors are more interested in how they can beat you tomorrow. "You're only as good as your next deal," he warns.

Statistics bear this out. Statistics Canada notes that while 95.7% of businesses survive their first year, only 45.9% make it to year ten.

Adapt and survive

His time on the slopes taught him that entrepreneurs and sportspeople who rely on their past successes tend to stay trapped in the same way of doing things. That stops them from evolving.

"If you don't evolve your model, it's going to die," he warns. In a business environment that is changing more rapidly than ever, stagnation is deadly. "You always have to adapt," he continues. "Everybody wants your place, and they will adapt to take it. Nobody's going to give you one inch, whether it's in business or in sport. They'll do everything in their power to take your market share."

Seasoned business owners can learn a lot from sports competitors when it comes to adaptation. Alex reinvented his training routine during the four-year approach to Sochi, ensuring that he identified and addressed his weaknesses so that he could improve himself as an athlete. There was no space for ego in his training and no time for stagnation.

Shift accessibility construction owners working on site, a pop up of QuickBooks overview screen.

Your business finances — simplified

See your business finances all in one place, from bookkeeping to taxes, invoicing, payroll and time tracking.

Attitude is everything

Constant evolution requires discipline and perseverance, he advises. Striving for success means making the effort to evolve every day, even when it's difficult. Just as regular saving leads to compound returns later on, consistent effort delivers big successes over time. It also develops the resilience that entrepreneurs and sports competitors need to face the challenges that will inevitably come.

The knowledge that constant effort would deliver long-term returns what got Alex out training every day, no matter what the weather. Keeping that commitment required self-discipline and the humility to view himself as just another competitor rather than the current leader in the field.

"There are many things within the four years between each Olympic event that were out of my control," Alex recalls. "What I could control was my attitude; the mindset of making every day count."

That attitude is a valuable asset that entrepreneurs and Olympians alike can develop and then use to fuel their future success. According to the Intuit Quickbooks New Generation of Entrepreneurship in Canada: 2022 report, 34% of entrepreneurs are driven by the need to challenge themselves. Read more about how to sharpen and improve your company vision.

Dogged determination alone doesn't guarantee victory — talent and insight are also important — but constant effort without missing a beat was what got Alex to the point where he could defend his title.

"You learn to bring that attitude even on the most difficult days," he says. "When you've done that for four years and you get to the next Olympics, you just bring it again for one more day.

Raw passion is important for anyone hoping to rise to the top, but those who succeed repeatedly - whether on the slopes or in a startup - learn how to keep that fire burning, even during the toughest times.

Are you ready to dodge and weave when the going gets tough? QuickBooks Online looks after your accounting details, freeing you to adapt and thrive as conditions change.

<< Episode 3: Here's why planning and patience are key for entrepreneurship<<

>> Episode 5: The importance of resilience and support systems for enterpreneurs>>

Looking for something else?

Get QuickBooks

Smart features made for your business. We've got you covered.

Firm of the Future

Expert advice and resources for today’s accounting professionals.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.