In the world of small business, the changing nature of competition requires us to constantly adjust and adapt, succeed and remain grounded. Everyday business decisions can be a continuous battle between the urge to stand still and consolidate, or push to achieve more.

So how do you strike the right balance? Multi-medal winning swimmer Michael Klim shares four top tips.

1. Savour successes

Part of moving forward includes taking the time to savour your successes, Michael believes. “When I competed, I didn’t always reflect on getting a gold medal,” he says. “I’d think, ‘That’s it – onto the next challenge’. When you’re so driven, you can almost take things for granted.”

Things changed when Michael scooped the ultimate: the gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. “I stood on the podium listening to the anthem with a medal around my neck – and it sunk in,” he says. “We have to celebrate the good things because there will always be another competition.”

2. Never stop learning

While it’s important to stop and celebrate success, don’t forget to hold yourself to task too. Every business should incorporate continuous improvement processes into their everyday operations, such as feedback sessions with their teams and customers. “We go through our key learnings every Monday morning at 11am,” says Michael, whose aims for a culture of openness in his Aussie skincare business, Milk & Co. “Then we pick five key objectives for the week, so we have something tangible to focus on.”

3. Champion the brand

No matter what you might read in the glossy magazines, there are times in every growing business when you have to make hard decisions. At this point, it’s key to come back to the core of your offering. “There was a time in the business when we had to find an extra 30–40% in our everyday cash flow just to remain sustainable,” Michael says. “You have to look at where you’re heading and be prepared to make some difficult decisions.”

4. Take the good with the bad

The unknown entity of a working week can drive small-business owners to distraction but it comes with benefits too. “With swimming, you always want to go faster and see how fast you can push your body,” says Michael. “It can be easier to stay grounded in a small business. In the same day you get really good news, you’ll probably get some terrible news too. We know we’re a long way from resting on our laurels.”