Just recently my wife, Melana, trained for and successfully ran a marathon. I was a supporter and I cheered her on and encouraged her, but I didn’t run with her.
Anyone who has run a marathon knows that it is a phenomenal feat. For the spectators, like me, it seems a nearly insurmountable task – I have great respect for Melana.
Here’s a picture of her in the Baltimore Marathon – this is througth the Inner Harbor area:
Watching her train and run the race itself, I was struck by the similarities to running a business and especially starting a business. Successful entrepreneurs and business owners need to have many aspects of a ‘Marathoner’s Mentality’.
Here are just a few key success factors for starting a business (and running a marathon):
- Planning and Strategy
- Balanced Preparation
- Consistent and Persistent Activity
Business Planning and Strategy
I was amazed at how much planning and strategy Melana put in. She not only planned her workout duration and focus, but also her food and water, pace, apparel, shoes, weight to carry … every detail. I am convinced that all the planning had a siginificant positive effect; she planned for success and succeeded.
It is the same thing for someone starting a business (or running a business) – a good business plan and marketing plan is essential to success. People that have a written business plan are significantly more likely to succeed than those that don’t.
For an entrepreneur, the details of a good plan include financial, marketing and advertising, sales, training, etc. The details are different, perhaps, but the ones that cross the finish line are the ones that have planned to finish and have created a strategy to get them there.
The finish line, a thriving, profitable business is a long way off – better have a plan, your route map, to keep you headed in the right direction.
Balance Your Business
Keeping everything in balance is critical to success – both in business and in running. A steady sustainable pace for the runner is the attainable and sustainable growth for the businessman. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Melana was always watching her food and water intake – it had to be right for the entire race.
You guessed it – advertising and marketing – that’s the nourishment for a business. You’ve got to have a steady stream of prospects and customers; it’s the lifeblood of the business. Best practices, and the best marketing plans, dictate consistent advertising and marketing … in good times and in bad.
Stick to the plan, stay the course, keep your eye on the goal – to make money; having a plan ahead of time helps maintain balance in the business. When times are tough – the runner is tired – is the time to rely on the planning and preparation.
Persistence Carries the Day
What happens when you hit the wall? Every marathoner knows that it can happen, that it will happen. Every successful marathoner finds the right way to work through it and continue.
There is no substitute for persistence. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will eventually arrive. There’s more to recovering when you ‘hit the wall’ in the race, and in business too. But a big part of the success mentality rests with the power of persistence, and in planning to hit tough spots.
The rough times in business may surprise you still, but your plan calls for persistence and perhaps drastic action, but also the confidence that you’ll get through it. It is far better to walk for a while, even during a race, than to quit – cut back on your business expenses, for example, rather than go out of business.
Long term planning and persistence go hand-in-hand; it’s not a sprint, don’t use all your energy at the beginning, adjust when you need to, adapt to survive and continue.
I’ll bet marathoners make good business owners. I’m not surprised that Melana is good at both!