I love to run, and I love business. Not sure which came first — running or entrepreneurship — but I am certain that my success in one has greatly influenced performance in the other.
Since my early inception into the world of running, I’ve run the ancient Hutong villages of Beijing, inhaled the sweet aroma of cherry blossoms surrounding Capitol Hill, jogged through the warm coastal breeze of southern Florida, crisscrossed the tropical shipping hub of Singapore, and sprinted a high altitude run under the auspice looming silhouette of Pike’s Peak.
Regardless of where I was, or what business challenge I was currently facing, the discipline and focus cultivated through my running provided elements essential to achievement. Here are four principles pounding the asphalt taught me about entrepreneurial success:
“Ahhh,” I groaned, reaching out from under the warm bed covers to turn-off my 4:30 AM alarm. I considered exchanging one hour of intense physicality for an extra hour of serene sleep, given that no one would be the wiser for my practical postponement; however, I would know of my early morning shortcomings. Thus, I hit the trails that morning like every other.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that motivation must come from within. Business owners don’t have a micromanaging superior looming over their shoulders, nor a competitive co-worker vying to oust them from their current position. These types of scenarios offer constant motivation to do more, and do better. Instead, business owners are forced to motivate themselves to endure the hardship, such as a 4:30 am jog when it’s 30 degrees F outside, in order to receive the desired rewards, even when no one else is “watching” to hold them accountable. Self-motivation is essential, for both the committed runner and entrepreneur.
Gotta Have the Right Gear
“Classic amateur mistake,” muttered a fellow 10k competitor, as he jogged past my bleeding bare feet. Day before the race, I’d “blown out” one of my running shoes, and was forced to run the race in brand new “tennie-boopers”. Breaking new shoes in on race day certainly isn’t advisable, as getting bogged down in blisters before crossing the finish line is a far cry from a winning strategy. Such a snafu in gear cost me an extra 4 minutes in race time.
Like running, success in business requires the right “gear” to make it across the finish line. Tackling a business venture without proper resources can spell disaster for even the most ingenious startup plans. Such business launching necessities include: adequate financing, a well-researched marketing plan, solid support team, practical knowledge base, attainable cash flow budgets, etc. Regardless of how “awesome” your business dream is, without the “right gear”, you’ll find yourself rubbing blistered feet from the sidelines. Be sure you start your entrepreneurial journey with all the right gear.
Runners are an exclusive group; a definite minority in today’s sedentary population. Many a run have been mocked by non-runners driving past my physical feat in the air conditioned car, shouting: “Run Forest!”, “Need a ride?”, “Go FASTER!”. I take strides to tune out the unwelcome jests as I focus on breathing patterns, heart rate, and mile times. My running recruiting efforts are often scoffed at by undisciplined friends who laugh, “Me? Run? Only if being chased by a bear!”, thus leaving me to hits the trails alone, while others invest time in less vigorous activities.
Don’t let going at it alone discourage you from pursuing your goals—running or business. Entrepreneurs, by definition, defy the status quo in efforts to strike out on their own. For the first few “miles” of one’s entrepreneurial journey, they will be called “crazy” by everyone zipping past in their mainstream “vehicles”. However, one’s solo-trek will eventually gain the respect of others, as the positive benefits of stretching oneself become evident– for runners, a toned physique and quality of life are certain to follow; for entrepreneurs, the satisfaction of building a business and a multitude of opportunities to impact one’s community. Before long, those who called you “crazy” will soon be holding your pioneering pursuits in the highest of regard. Hold your head high, and don’t be discouraged when running alone.
Eyes on the Finish Line
Running can be painful—muscle spasms, digestive upheaval, joint pain, dehydration nausea, fall-out fatigue, are just a few of the many “joys” known to runners around the world. Few run because they “enjoy” these guaranteed side effects; instead, they recognize these painful side effects are simply a cost of acquiring the many benefits running offers—improved health, fit physique, boosted self-confidence, etc.
Like running, business can be” painful”—decrease in sales, short staffed, surging competitor, financial constraints, etc.—are all less than ideal circumstances many entrepreneurs are forced to endure. Successful entrepreneurs push past the pain by focusing their attention on their end goal—established company, increased revenue, autonomous freedom offered only through self-employment.
By manipulating mind over matter, successful entrepreneurs keep both eyes locked on their “finish line”, never giving way to the aches and pains that accompany the journey.
Whether you are running a 3-mile loop around your neighborhood, or preparing for the grueling marathon of entrepreneurship, keep these four tips in mind, as you strive towards your “finish line”.
Hannah Becker, serial entrepreneur and MBA student, is author of The Motivated Millennial: An Entrepreneurial Guidebook for Generation Y. Passionate about entrepreneurship, Hannah is committed to encouraging millennials to pursue their entrepreneurship dreams. When not rolling out a new marketing plan, or re-vamping product development, Hannah can be found training for her next race. Visit www.themotivatedmillennial.com for more information and resources to aide your entrepreneurial journey. Connect with @MotivatedGenY on Twitter.
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