Why Running A Startup Is Like CrossFit For Your Brain

Life in the startup world can be brutal. It forces you to abandon everything that is known and comfortable – you are constantly on the edge.

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Photo: Bartosz Mozyrko, CEO of Usability Tools; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Bartosz Mozyrko, CEO of Usability Tools; Source: Courtesy Photo

I would have never expected that my company would evolve into a technology startup. I’ve always associated that word with an exotic form of conducting business which only appears in American movies.

When we created two divisions of your business, and I took the responsibility for a fledgling SaaS business, I soon learned about the startup struggle and what it meant to work in such an environment.

Post launch, we quickly concluded that many of our business challenges were due to the fact that we were simply doing too many things at once. So, we separated a large part of the business and I became the captain at the helm of the ship.

I understood that we could no longer expect “free” cash injections from the EU or investors. We had to start working really hard. This however was the very hard part that is often left out of the attention-grabbing plots of American movies. And this is how our journey began.

 

Life in the Startup World

Startups are not like the movies. Life in the startup world can be brutal. It forces you to abandon everything that is known and comfortable – you are constantly on the edge. Nothing is yours (at least not yet). Expect and plan for that feeling and you will achieve success.

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“Life in the startup world can be brutal. It forces you to abandon everything that is known and comfortable – you are constantly on the edge. Nothing is yours (at least not yet).”

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At the same time, it requires your full dedication and the will power to fight in order to reach your set destination. Did I mention that you are expected to finish every task ASAP?

However, the biggest advantage of working in a startup is the pace of learning, and it is impossibly fast. This can be likened to CrossFit — where you have to perform “functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity.”

During my personal experience with CrossFit I have found more and more analogies that lend themselves to the startup world than I could have ever imagined. Startups and CrossFit have a lot in common.

Polish investor, Martin Szeląg express it well: “In order to have chances in […] business, you need to be absolutely the best. Startups do not forgive weakness. […] The bar has been raised very high. The best startups fight for the best investors and the best employees. At such a high level there is no place for errors. The weak lose very quickly.”

The same is said of sport – you are a winner only when you give it all. Only then do you get satisfaction, because you have done everything in your might in order to achieve your goal.

 

The Weak (of Mind) Lose Quickly

CrossFit is a sport created out of components of other disciplines (e.g., weightlifting, metabolic training, rowing and gymnastics). The main rule of CrossFit is to exercise in such a way to prepare you for every circumstance.

That is why CrossFit is practiced by many – “police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.”

The strength and conditioning regimen of CrossFit works on every aspect of physical fitness: cardio-respiratory endurance, metabolic efficiency, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy.

In the same way, the regimen of launching and scaling a startup conditions every component of your life.

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