The last day of the Olympics brings the marathon, a brutal test of endurance requiring immense physical and mental strength. Being an entrepreneur means you don’t have to dust off your running shoes to understand how that feels!
Starting a business, running your online business empire and being an entrepreneur means you enjoy the flexibility and freedom not afforded to those stuck in a 9-5 job, but you have to sacrifice the security of a stable, regular income and the ability to switch off from work at 5pm on a Friday and not think about it again until 9am on Monday.
Being an entrepreneur is immensely rewarding but it’s hard. There are so many hurdles to overcome, challenges to face, storms to weather, it’s not a surprise that the majority of people who venture down this path quit. Having your own business is an unforgiving slog.
The Entrepreneurial Marathon
So what can we learn from marathon runners? How do they run 26 miles in 2 hours? They break it into chunks and phases.
Phase One: Starting A Business
Going from a standing start to forward motion is the hardest part. Unless you are sitting on a pile of money, you are probably going to have to combine starting a business with a job until you can live off your online business, which makes things even harder.
It will take you a while to have enough money coming in to replace your income, during which time you are going to have to dig deep into your mental reserves, stick with it when failure is an easier option, and build enough force to create forward motion.
Like a marathon, most people who have a notion that being an entrepreneur or running a marathon sounds great but they will never actually get round to it and take the first step over the start line. So if you’ve got this far – well done!
Phase Two: The Fear Of Being An Entrepreneur
So you’ve got started woohoo! Now the fear hits. You’re on a journey and there’s no going back, only miles and miles of hard work ahead of you. Maybe you’ve left the security of a job and are now panicking about how you will pay your bills if things go wrong?
You’re filled with self doubt, anxiety and confidence is wavering, but this is the time when you need to be strong and step out with utter conviction and certainty. You need to exude a calm, self-assured swagger that will encourage your customers to believe in you and your product.
You also need to juggle about a million tasks! You need to be your manager, your accountant, your HR officer, your head of admin, your producer, distributor, marketer, sales team and IT support. Just like the prospect of running 26 miles, it can be overwhelming.
You could simply fake it til you make it and that’s a great strategy. However, I think acceptance is a much better way to deal with this phase. There is nothing you can do to by-pass this phase when starting a business. It is what it is and everything you are feeling and experiencing is entirely normal. Rather than resist it, accept it. It won’t last forever, you will get through it and everything will be ok.
Deal with your challenges one step at a time. Know that everything you do is making progress and taking you away from this fearful phase filled with uncertainty and towards a place which is more stable. All you have to do is keep moving forward.
Phase Three: Hitting Your Online Business Stride
your online business, being an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial marathon, starting a business, entrepreneur If you’re still hanging in you’ll now be starting to find your stride. You feel more confident about managing all the aspects of your online business, you have systems in place and money is coming in.
For the first time since starting this epic race you are able to breath a little easier and sleep a little more soundly. You can look ahead and know for at least the short to medium term, your bills will get paid and you can even have a day off to meet friends for a coffee without feeling like you should be doing something else.
Now you want to maintain a strong position and to do that you are going to have to deal with all the things that you maybe neglected or didn’t deal with properly when you were scrabbling to survive at the start of your race.
Everything that was done to the level of ‘good enough’ now has to be upgraded ‘done well’. So review your systems, processes and products and ensure that they are optimized to be as strong and powerful as they can be to maximize your finish.
Phase Four: The Entrepreneur’s Finishing Sprint
Unlike a marathon, as an entrepreneur you don’t have a finish line that once you cross that’s you, done, take a rest. There is no real finish line in business, just the next phase. But you should acknowledge when particular parts of your journey come to an end and you have achieved something significant before you move onto a new era.
So, if you have gone from a standing start, survived all the uncertainty of the early days, built a foundation and have strong systems in place that you are now able to reap the benefits from in terms of a reliable and stable income, then for goodness sake celebrate it! Give yourself a gold medal because that’s an amazing achievement and you should be really proud of yourself.
However, don’t bask in your glory too long because the next race has already started and you have new challenges to conquer!