Melissa Wu is a four-time Olympian who also runs three businesses.
Wu, who runs fitness business HrdKAW Strength, activewear company Havok Athletic and The Australian Diving Academy, is also currently in training for the Tokyo Olympics, where she will represent Australia in diving.
However, neither training for Tokyo nor sales is the most important part of her day; it’s sleep.
“My average day, particularly now with the Olympics so close, is extremely busy. My diving training is the most stable thing that doesn’t change much, but I jump from that to business mode, and everything is different and exciting,” she told Yahoo Finance.
“One day I'm processing orders or updating my website, and another day I’m training young divers or designing new activewear.”
Wu tends to run from one task to the next, so in her years of intensive training she’s come to understand the key role sleep has in maximising her performance.
“I’m learning that sleep is the most important thing. I don’t have any problem being motivated, but I burn out if I don’t get enough sleep,” she said.
“When I get enough sleep, I’m more productive, my performance is better and my thoughts are clearer - it’s a much better way of doing things.
“I think most small business owners do the same thing and run themselves into the ground, but sleep is so important.”
Lessons for business from an Olympic athlete
Running a business and maintaining a career as an athlete require a few common traits, Wu said.
“The biggest similarity is building resilience and riding the ups and downs. It’s really important in sport and business to be able to bounce back, and also let go of what’s happened in the past, reset and refocus on future goals,” she said.
“When things don’t go to plan, the most important thing is turning every experience into an opportunity to grow. That’s also where dedication and drive come into their own, as those traits will see you through the toughest times and elevate your game to another level.”
However, while competitive diving requires precision and near perfection, Wu cautions against applying the same approach to starting a business.
When she launched her first business, she was concerned she didn’t know enough, have enough money or time to do it properly.
“But my brother Joshua - who I run HrdKAW with - said, ‘Let’s just start and whatever happens, happens’. I quickly understood that I didn’t need as much time and money as I originally thought, and that I didn’t have to be a tech expert.
“Surround yourself with the right support network.”
She considers web hosting company GoDaddy as part of that network. Wu partnered with GoDaddy to help manage her businesses and ensure she has a platform to build financial security post-sport.
“Besides a handful of global names, Olympic athletes don’t earn the same money that many sports stars earn,” she said.
“Many athletes are self-employed... the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo includes small business owners in fields like property, physiotherapy and retail. I like having online businesses as I can manage them from anywhere – even in Tokyo!”
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