Being a business owner takes a certain type of resolve.
The celebrated tech startups and multi-million dollar investments we read about aren’t because of a few quick business sprints. Instead, they are all the result of strong, concerted efforts of strength and discipline -- the type only seen in endurance sports.
As a business owner and cycling enthusiast, I’ve experienced firsthand just how similar the two are. Both demand time, precision and calculated risk. Excelling for a few minutes is easy, the trick is making it last.
So how do you build business endurance? Here are the areas on which to focus:
Races, games and contests -- they are all won by the best-prepared team. To go the distance takes disciplined prep time -- for weeks or even years before the main event.
Start with the bare essentials. Knowing your market segment, along with the value you can add and the scope of each project, needs to become second nature.
As your organization grows, there needs to be an action plan for scaling and quality control. Ensuring that quality isn’t lost in the mix will be exponentially easier if outlined standards are put in place ahead of time, and of course, good training.
Surround yourself with support
Expanding your endurance is only possible when you continually push the limitations of your stamina. Often there’s a fine line between giving a reserved effort and going overboard. The only way to continually hit that sweet spot is with a cohesive team moving toward a common goal.
Similar to sports, a skilled team with strengths outside your own is how you will push through boundaries and get past obstacles. When you’re crushing it, they’re right there with you. When motivation wavers, just being in your team’s presence can be enough to inspire you. Feed off that energy, add to it and enjoy accomplishments together.
Focus on milestones, not finish lines
The mental fortitude needed to accomplish a long trek such as a business venture is fierce. Up ahead there’s criticism, mistakes and the constant need to remain alert. At times it might seem as if you’re simply spinning your wheels. It can be a bit disheartening.
Fight off this negative haze by celebrating milestones. Keep a record as you go to realize the true effort being put in.
I lasted just three laps before the referee pulled me out during my very first race. During the next, I lasted only a few more laps before getting dropped. It was during the third that I finally made it across the finish, but each race was a crucial step.
To keep moving and improving, you have to feed the need. Caffeine-induced productivity highs are all well and good, but think about the long haul. In business and in sport, being proactive about nourishment, reenergizing and refueling is always rewarded sevenfold.
Related: 5 Reasons to Focus on Long-Term Gain
It’s up to you to make the most out of your breaks from business. Have lunch with colleagues, keep a healthy diet and don’t spend all day behind a desk. Ironically, sometimes working outside the office is more important (and productive) than working in it.
The flip side of refueling is getting rest. Try taking a new approach and incorporate active rest to progress your endurance. Instead of either taking it easy or going all out, endurance athletes find a way to move forward even while recovering. Mix in some lower focus tasks to your day to make your productivity last.
Avoid any type of crash by keeping a mindful cadence. You are your best judge of fatigue, so be honest before your body or mind forces you to be honest.
Constant fine tuning
Competition is where the magic happens. Folks like billionaire businessman Mark Cuban agree that business is a sport where you are constantly competing. If not for the rights to a project or a new client, then it’s for recognition within your industry.
Taking part in this competition is what keeps the sport interesting and engaging. Our agency frequently submits to new and exciting design competitions with the goal of winning in mind. Even when we lose, the focus remains that today’s work is not good enough for tomorrow.
To stay competitive, constant fine tuning of your craft is required. Day in and day out, the glory will be in the journey, not the seconds spent on a podium.
Keep what’s important at the helm. Stay humble through it all. And rise to the challenge that every new day presents, if you want true lasting success.
Related: 31 Tips for Conquering Startup Fears