What Can a Small Business Owner Learn From an Ice Skater?
When my daughter was young, we used to watch ice skating all the time. She liked the beautiful costumes, pretty music and young girls, not much older than herself, who were in the spotlight.
Of course I liked all those things, but what I really loved was the lessons that ice skating teaches.
Sometimes a performance would be perfect and would go off without a flaw, but more often than not, there was a mistake. It might be a little mistake that no one else but the judges would notice, sometimes it was a huge face plant.
A beautiful, graceful ice skater would go up for a jump, come down on their rear end and slide across the ice. The music was still playing as they picked themselves up, caught up with the music and kept on skating and smiling. Sometimes at the end of the performance you could see their facade crack, but rarely did anyone cry, at least not in public.
I see this as a metaphor for life and business. I have been a business woman for more years than I care to admit. Sometimes, my mistakes have been a little bobble. A missed meeting or deadline, a misspelling on a social media post or forgetting someone’s name during a networking event. The little things that you can cover up from everyone except the judges.
Other times, I have a had huge face plant right on the ice. You know what I mean. The kind of mistake that makes you want to go home and hide or cry or give up.
As a business owner, these falls can happen at anytime. No business is immune. Especially with social media. A small error can be videoed and played over and over. In the past it would have gone unnoticed, but now it’s gone viral.
So think like an ice skater.
1. Prepare like crazy. Ice skaters always know their next step because of all their practice. Check out social media and see what types of things have tripped up other businesses especially your competitors. A bad review or a negative comment on social media. See how that business handled the situation. What did you think about the way they handled it? How would you have handled it differently/
2. Stand up and catch up with the music. Most times you can’t simply ignore the issue. You need to deal with it. Many times owners simply want to delete negative comments, but I encourage them not to do that. My advice is to give the person making the negative comment a way to discuss their concern offline through a company email address. (I draw the line if comments use foul language, disparage an individual or a group of individuals. Those comments always get deleted.
3. After you recover from your fall, move forward. Don’t dwell on the situation, concentrate on the future. When a reporter asks the skater, “How did you feel when you fell on your face and lost any chance of winning,” the skater always has an answer with a positive spin. “I’ll do better next time.” “I need to practice that spin more.” For a business owner, it might be, “We apologize and will do better to provide better service in the future.”
So the next time someone in your house turns on an ice skating competition, don’t immediately turn it off. Watch how the skaters handle setbacks. How quickly do they get up when they fall? You’ll be amazed how truly tough they are.
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