Why Building a Business is like Training for a Marathon

November 23, 2009·
I. Was. Tired.
I. Was. Tired.

I give you this disclaimer: I am neither an expert in building a business nor am I an expert in running or training for a marathon… but I can speak from my personal experiences.

They (I have no idea who “they” are) say that the first two years of starting a business are the hardest. I’ve heard some people say one year, some even say three years. And of course, there are the anomalies who build their business successfully in less than a year. Sometimes less than six months – I am jealous of those people.

I have been a freelance writer and consultant for over 3 years, and I have tried to turn my freelance work into a full-time business for a year. It’s hard. Really hard.

Seemingly-Unrelated-But-I-Have-A-Point: I am training for my first half-marathon. I don’t like to run and in fact, I’m a horrible runner. In high school I played golf, in part so I would never have to run suicides. But running is something that I have always wanted to be good at.

One of my goals for 2010 is to run and complete a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. At first I told myself I would just run and complete a 10K (6.2 miles). But I knew that wasn’t good enough for me. I need to buck up and do it. So I, in 2010, WILL run and complete a half-marathon.

I have been doing short distance runs for a while, but I officially started my training a week ago. Yesterday, I ran the longest I have ever run in my entire life, 3.38 miles in 49:24 minutes. (It was a run/walk tempo run – that’s why it took that long). I pushed through when I didn’t want to and I did it. Now, I only have 17 more weeks of training and about 10 more miles to run.

Back to the topic at hand. Why would I compare building my business to that of training for a marathon? Here’s my rationale.

Building a business is hard work. Training for a marathon is hard work.

No one wakes up one morning and has a successful business that runs itself and makes them the big bucks. No one wakes up one morning and says, “You know, I think I’ll run 13.1 or 26.2 miles today.” People who run a successful business and people who run a successful marathon work hard to achieve those things. Neither of these things come easy.

When I’m working to build my business I work long hours or I work when I really don’t want to. I’ll work when I’m sick, I’ll work when I’d rather be spending the night out with my friends. But I am working to eventually make my business rock.

I hate running. And I hate the cold. Well, it’s almost winter, and I’m going to have to get used to running in the cold. I am sticking to my schedule and running even if I don’t want to. Why? Because nothing is going to get in the way of me achieving my goals.

Both of these things take resources. As I build my business I decide what’s an important resource and what isn’t. I knew I wanted to re-do my blog, and I knew that would cost me money. But I did it because it was important.

BIG UPS and huge thanks to Greg Lee and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA, I have a gym membership now. I have set myself up with a mobile training program and I am using their facilities to help me along the way. It’s all about using the resources and just asking when something is needed.

The key here is, whether you’re building a business or you’re training for a marathon, you have a process and the key is to stick to that process. Whether you have to blog every day, run every day, go to networking events twice a week, spend money on an important resource – whatever. Find a schedule, find a pattern, and COMMIT.

What do YOU think? Do you have a different analogy you want to throw at me?