The Games Plan: How Small Businesses Can Capitalize on the Spirit of Rio

As Brazil welcomes the world at tonight’s Olympic Opening Ceremonies, there’s a sense of excitement in the air — and an opportunity to make work a little more winning. Harnessing the spirit of Rio de Janeiro in your organization is an effective way to augment morale and doesn’t require much exertion.

Here are a few ways your small business can go for the gold this August.

Host an Office Competition

To say Sebastien Dupéré, CEO of Dupray, a purveyor of steam cleaners and irons, is a huge fan of the Olympics would be an understatement. “The Olympic Games foster competitiveness, teamwork, hard work, and overall fun. At the end of the day, we need those same qualities in the office,” he says.

Those qualities come to the forefront every two years when Dupray holds a series of competitions at its headquarters in Montreal. The company’s executives make a list of activities that can garner points, most of which don’t require athletic prowess.

“There are simple things, like saying hello to everybody, to more complicated things, like baking the entire office cookies,” Dupéré explains. “You would be surprised how competitive people get.”

Many of the events are based on productivity and are department specific. Within Dupray’s sales team, for example, the first representative to close a deal gets two points. Prizes include concert and sporting event tickets, extra vacation days, and free lunches.

Sponsor an Athlete

For the 19 employees at Sensorpro.net, all eyes will be on Thomas Barr, a hurdler from Ireland, when he competes in Rio. The company was able to connect with him through ntrai.com, a crowdfunding and corporate sponsorship website, and pays $5,000 a year to sponsor Barr.

For Sensorpro.net owner Chris Byrne, this was an opportunity to help an underdog — and to get the organization’s name out there.

“It underpins that both mental and physical fitness are important,” Byrne explains. “And it opens up a softer way to access brand managers, and as a result we’ve been able to get on the radar of other brands.”

Create a Guessing Game

At Suprex Private Tutoring in Houston, director AJ Saleem invites his employees and clients to participate in a bracket-type competition in which people guess which countries will win gold medals.

“This definitely build camaraderie between clients and employees because they have a stepping stone for conversation,” Saleem says, noting that about 80 percent of invitees participate. “The employee winner gets PTO, and the client winner earns a free tutoring class.”

Capitalize on Country Pride

CEO Sam Sternweiler says his company, Jewelv.com, a fine jewelry customization company, will use the games as a springboard to launch new products featuring country flags set in gemstones.

“People have a heightened sense of nationalism,” he says. “Including flags in our product design is a way for us to offer something that will allow customers to express their nationalism without violating any trademarks.”

That’s because misusing the trademarks, which are closely guarded by the Olympic Committee, comes with a hefty fine. Before you start producing any games-themed product, review these branding guidelines.

Even if you feel like you don’t have time to tackle a product in time for Rio, no problem. Start planning now for the winter games in South Korea — 2018 is just around the corner.

Emily Edmonds was the editor of a business magazine for eight years and currently teaches a college news writing course. She was a volunteer at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.  

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