Starting a business and watching it grow can be hugely satisfying as you get to see all of your hard work pay off. Transforming a small team into a thriving company is an incredible achievement but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Ultimately, building a successful business can take a huge amount of hard work and patience. Even if you have a clear and thorough plan, you may need to take a long-term view if you want to see your vision realised.
That’s why a good analogy can be to think of it as the London Marathon, rather than a 100-metre sprint. With that in mind, read on to find out five lessons that long-distance running can teach you about building a business.
When running a long distance race, knowing how to pace yourself is very important if you want to finish. While it can be tempting to speed up, if you use too much of your energy too quickly, you may burn yourself out before you reach your goals.
In the same way, it’s important not to overextend yourself when trying to build your business. It can be tempting to grow your team as fast as you can, but this isn’t always the most sensible idea.
Many first-time business owners often underestimate how quickly a new company can generate a profit. If you hire too many staff too soon, you may use up a great deal of your capital before you’ve even really started.
On the flipside, it can be easy to take on too much work before you’re properly ready to, which can lead to delays. Over time, this can seriously damage your relationship with clients, as well as your business’s reputation, which could cost you money in lost sales.
Training for a marathon takes months of hard work and preparation and during this time many people can have doubts. For example, if you overestimate your fitness then it can be easy to get disheartened when you push yourself too far.
But instead of letting it discourage them, the best marathon runners embrace these setbacks, using them to inspire them to train harder. After all, you can only push your limits when you know where they are.
As any business owner will tell you, the road to success is rarely a smooth one and your company will almost certainly experience rough periods while you’re getting established. But instead of letting them demoralise you, use them as opportunities to improve.
If you want your company to thrive then it’s important to learn from your mistakes and use this knowledge to make your business more resilient.
When you’re preparing for a marathon, it can be hugely useful to train with groups of other runners. These like-minded people can give you much-needed support, bolster your spirits when they’re flagging, and help you to reach your goals.
If you’re trying to build a business, you can apply the same strategy. When hiring new staff, it’s important to choose people whose values reflect your companies, as doing so can have a variety of benefits.
For a start, if their goals align with yours and the business’s then you may find that they’re often more productive and willing to go the extra mile. On top of this, they’re also less likely to want to leave, which can help to reduce staff turnover.
As any long-distance runner will tell you, the middle of a marathon is often the trickiest part, as this is when fatigue starts to set in and you start to worry that you won’t make it to the finish line.
This is known as “hitting the wall” and is when many people throw in the towel. But, as the most experienced runners know, the best way to overcome this is to keep your eyes fixed on your goal.
In the same way, when you build a business you may find that you run into temporary setbacks. But if you want your company to thrive then you need to stay focused on your goals. Remembering that these setbacks are only temporary can help to give you greater peace of mind.
As you’ll know, before you do any exercise it’s important to warm up first, and this is especially true before running a marathon. 26 miles of running can really take a toll on your body, which is why it’s important to stretch beforehand and protect your body from strain.
Likewise, when you build a business, you can sometimes run into unexpected problems that could slow your progress towards your goals. This is why you should protect yourself against the unknown, as it can help to shield you from the unknown.
Knowing that you have the right cover in place for your needs can give you greater confidence for the future, as you can be certain that your business will be able to overcome any obstacles.