According to world-class athlete and Olympian Sally Gunnell, as well as adapting to change, sustaining excellence in a new business is one of the hardest parts of the journey. In both business and sport, people ask and expect you to consistently perform at a massively high level with challenging deadlines. Sally’s advice in this regard is to stay focused on your goals and remember that they can of course be tweaked when they’ve been achieved or part achieved.

“Take, for example, you win the biggest race on Earth: the Olympics. What do you do then, retire? For me it was around sitting down and thinking, what next – changing those goals, thinking high, but I remained motivated to carry on.”

The lack of specific goals is where a lot of businesses fall down. Some entrepreneurs say they wants to be “big in business” but there will always be someone bigger, so they will fail. Sally is not a fan of this wanting to be the best, soundbite business planning. Wanting to be an Olympic medallist was one thing but she goes back to understanding the steps.

“Back at that Olympic final I knew exactly when I was going to hit the first hurdle, how many stride patterns, what time I was going to hit the second,” she says. It’s the same with business; never mind “I want to be big”, how about “I will get to my market by taking steps A and B and will sanity check the results when I see turnover reaching C” – then you’ll know whether or not you’re succeeding.

Sally’s top tip for sustaining excellence:
Have self-belief. All of us will doubt our ability at some point, but use your mind to visualise your goal and control that inner voice. Your mind is more powerful than you think.