One of my favorite things in life is movies. When I’m working on the weekends and need a break I look for inspirational documentaries that remind me that work has purpose. Yesterday i watched the Spirit of the Marathon and it made me realize that being an entrepreneur is much like training and completing a marathon.
The #1 thing you here from everyone who runs a marathon, except for the elite professionals, is that “Its not about winning, it’s about finishing.” There can only be one winner and most people can’t win, not because of desire, but because of physical limitations. Finishing is winning. A marathon pushes your physical and mental limits and if you can overcome your mind and push your body to your physical limitations, then you can accomplish a lot of other things in life.
This philosophy is the same philosophy 99% of entrepreneurs should think about and here is how i think it relates.
- You must train your mind when you start a company. In marathon training you must workout daily, but you start small and add length. In running a company, you must educate yourself daily about your industry, competitors, company. It is this education that builds your mind and talent so you can grow your company effectively.
- You must make sacrifices when you start a company. In marathon training, the increased training takes up your spare time, but you are investing in your physical and mental development. In starting a company, you must make sacrifices in time and lifestyle. Very few of us have the means to run a company like we have a job. Meaning, we need to live off less, budget our money, and many times take loans or use credit cards. The payoff is the freedom the short term sacrifice buys you when you are successful.
- Its not about winning, but finishing. Many entrepreneurs including myself have gotten sucked into thinking about selling our company before we even have a company. This is like thinking about how you have never run over 6 miles, so how can you run a marathon. It is a distraction and instantly puts you at a disadvantage. Many of us will sell our company one day, but we can’t always control how or when this happens. The reason we started a company was to create financial freedom and independence. To me winning as an entrepreneur is when you can say your company is self sustainable and you can grow the company through its own profits. Focus on this and the pressure is easier to manage.
- Realize you may not finish the first time, but keep going. I have met many runners who have gotten injured or their endurance just wasn’t enough the first time they ran a marathon so they had to quit to prevent long term bodily injury. Those runners didn’t give up. They rested, waited, and started again. This is like running your first business. Entrepreneurship is a great lifestyle but it takes training and time and you don’t always succeed the first time. Sometimes the economy goes bad, your competitors do it better, your product just didn’t fit the need you expected, or 1 of 100 other things. This doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you didn’t finish this time. The key is to step back, think about what went wrong, find new mentors, find a new idea, and start training again. Most entrepreneurs look at failure as a right of passage and badge of honor. If you don’t have it, you don’t realize how important it is.
So keep going and focus on keeping one foot in front of the other. It is not about how fast you go, but about not stopping and moving forward.
Here is the trailer from Spirit of the Marathon: