In 2013, I started my own company.
If you’ve ever started your own company, or even if you haven’t, you probably know what a terrifying prospect this can be.
To make matters even worse, I had absolutely no clue what steps were needed to begin, what I had to do to become successful, or if I would even be profitable. I wanted to freak out, but I remembered a simple lesson: I’m a runner.
In 2010, I returned to running after a 10-year break. My son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it was extremely challenging to be a good mother to him and continue with my passions at the same time.
I had no idea how important running would become, not only to myself and my own self-esteem, but also to my future business.
It’s really ironic: I stopped running because I thought that it was keeping me from being the woman, the mother, and the businesswoman that I needed to be, but it turns out that the lessons that I learned from running gave me the framework and guidelines that eventually led to my business and personal success.
Here are six key lessons I learned from running, and how I applied them to my small business:
1. Know Your Why.
If you don’t have a reason to run, there’s no point in doing it. If you don’t remind yourself of that reason often, you might as well just stop now. Every runner has a “why”—we’re running to become more fit, lose weight, or to try out for something.
We may be attempting a distance that we’ve never tried before or to break our timed record, regardless of the exact reason—there’s always a reason. Business is extremely similar.
The entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone, and it can be a very lonely road. People will question what you’re trying to do, why you have to start your own business, why you didn’t think of this or that, and you will question your sanity. Your “why” will be the thing that you reach for to hold onto and push through during those times, just like the sign announcing the final mile can motivate you through a marathon.
2. Embrace Failure. You are going to fail. Often. It’s a fact. Without those failures, we don’t learn what works and what doesn’t. When we lift weights, we push ourselves to “failure.” It’s the very thing that tears us down and builds us to success. If we are pushing, learning, and constantly growing, we’ll always be moving toward our goals—and failure is a huge part of that. It will be extremely uncomfortable, disappointing, and possibly even embarrassing, but it’s a key part of the process both in running and in business.
3. Find Others with Your Spirit. Being an entrepreneur is rough. Our friends and family can be the most supportive people in the world (although many aren’t), but we still need someone that understands exactly what it’s like to be in our shoes. It’s like running a race: our loved ones may wake up at the crack of dawn and be waiting for us at the finish line with signs and streamers, and that’s wonderful, but they still don’t understand what it’s like to actually run a marathon, and they never will. It is important to find others that are trying to create something similar, so that we can get feedback and support along the journey.
4. Just Make it to the Next Tree. Sometimes, when we’re running—especially when it’s after 70 miles—we just want to stop, so badly. We can’t imagine running another second. We’re tired, cold, hot, hungry, sick, and we can’t stand the sight of squirrels or rocks. However, we committed to the vision we have and to complete the project, there are many hours and miles ahead. The only thing that we can do is to keep moving forward, even if it’s one tree at a time. By breaking our goals down into small “trees” or pieces, we’ll be able to manage one piece at a time until we’re in front of the finish line.
5. Success is Not a Solo Journey. Though many entrepreneurs and runners spend long periods of time by themselves, success is a team effort. We’ll need great coaches and mentors, our crew, our community—and our friends and family. They won’t let us quit when we shouldn’t. And when it is time to call it quits, our crew will be there with us to make the hard calls with us and support us through that disappointment, so that we can live to run another day.
6. The Finish Line is Never Guaranteed. There is no guarantee that we’ll reach our goal. We may never build our company to the level we want it to grow to. We may never make a million dollars, we may not finish first ever, we might not be on the cover of Forbes or Sports Illustrated, but it’s not about any of that. The process of trying to reach the goal turns you into the person that you were meant to be.
You may be injured, get lost, not complete the race in the right amount of time, but there’s always another race, another business to start, and some amazing new project to pursue that’s right around the corner.
The goal is to love the process, and love who we become along the way.
Author: Ashly McHatton
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron