What running has taught me about starting a business
Some days you’ll hardly raise a sweat to get where you want to, on others, it’ll be an unbelievably hard slog. These are just some of the things running has taught me about starting a business.
I’m a relatively new member to the ranks of runners having gone from barely being able to run 500m to completing the 14km Sydney City to Surf last month.
On a recent training run, I started thinking about all the things that I have learnt about running, through both research and experience, and how they can be applied to the process of starting a business.
Tackling the mountain
The bests tip for running up a hill (or mountain) is to take a look at the top, visualise how you are going to feel once you conquer it, then just put your head down and concentrate on the mechanics of getting there. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I just have to stop and walk. But the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top is worth the hard effort.
There were times along the path to starting a business that the peak seemed so far away, I thought I would never reach it. But by concentrating and prioritising all the little things I needed to do to get there, I was able to achieve the goal. And it feels great!
"Some days you won’t even break a sweat achieving what you set out to do. Other days it will be a hard slog with every obstacle known to man thrown in your way. "
Stop and smell the roses
No matter what your goal for the day is, make sure you give yourself a moment to take in your surroundings and be thankful for the here and now. A sunrise over Anzac Bridge, an elderly couple walking hand in hand, the echo of rowers on the bay on a foggy morning.
Along the journey to starting a business, there were times that I was so focused on all the tasks that had to be ticked off my list, I forgot about all the important things in life. Sometimes life gets busy and consuming and even overwhelming. When I feel these emotions coming to the surface I stop and take a good look at my surroundings. I think about all the wonderful people in my life who have encouraged and supported me. Then I’m ready to tackle anything.
Watch for potholes and strange people
When you least expect it they will jump out and make you stumble! If you are wearing the right shoes and are mindful of your surroundings, they won’t bring you any harm.
There are always obstacles put in our way, and difficult people to deal with in business. Starting a business is no different. Having an awareness of your industry and environment will ensure that you don’t end up hurting yourself or the business. Having the right support to carry on should you stumble is also crucial to success.
Not every day is a personal best
Some days you won’t even break a sweat achieving what you set out to do. Other days it will be a hard slog with every obstacle known to man thrown in your way.
Some work days we achieve a lot – new blog post, invoices paid, new clients, more sales. Some days it’s slow and we feel like underachievers. Don’t see those slow days as failures. They’re just ways to learn how to do it better next time.
There are lots of techniques and advice around this in running. Breathe through your mouth. Breathe in time with your steps. Breathe every second step.
Really, you just need to find your own rhythm and technique. Go with what works for you and do it consistently. Problems start to occur when you forget to breathe. All your mechanics get out of whack.
This is a great analogy for starting a business. Do what feels right for you. Do it often. Do it routinely. Do it consistently. Then when it gets a little overwhelming – remember to breathe!
It’s amazing how you can give yourself a little lift when you put a smile on your face. When I’m struggling with discomfort on my run, I try to break out a smile. People must think I’m a little nuts, but it works!
Some days using those face muscles to break out a smile is hard work, but it’s funny how smiling even when you don’t feel like it can help you to change your perspective.
If you’re thinking of starting a business, I say ‘run with it’! Make sure that you have the right people around you both personally and professionally, to support and encourage you. But most of all enjoy the journey and always remember the reason that you started in the first place.