On October 30th, I ran my first marathon. The Niagara Falls International Marathon begins in Buffalo, NY and ends at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. Part of the marathon involves running over the Peace Bridge. All of this, after months of training, should have provided an empowering experience. But alas, even after months of training and preparations, you can still face major roadblocks on race day. The same can be said about running my own business. Here are three things marathons and running a business have in common.
No one starts out as an expert, either in business or in marathons. My running experience started less than five years ago with a “Couch to 5K” sort of app. I remember the starting days when running 00:17 seconds on a treadmill made my lungs feel like they were on fire. Over the years I had slowly worked myself up to running half-marathons but I knew a marathon would require real training. I joined the local running group, Checkers Athletic Club, and each week I had a new training regiment to help prepare me for the race over 18 weeks. In the midst of my own marathon race I met a woman who was struggling with her first marathona s much as I was. We banded together and ran the second half of the race together, at different points encouraging each other. I would have quit without her. She would have quit without me. She’s someone I will never ever forget. I still wish today I had grabbed a photo with her then – but we are both Facebook friends so I’m glad we can keep in touch.
I also rely on many coaches for my business. One year ago I stumbled into my first client but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was onto something bigger than a chance client. I was still working on my MBA at the University at Buffalo so I looked internally to find some coaches. From professors to career councilors, I reached out and set up reoccurring meetings so I always have a perspective outside of my own. When you grind for your business every day it can be hard to see the bigger picture. Coaches are wonderful
Coaches are wonderful individuals who can make your experience a much better experience.
Marathon training and business growth are both a slow process. Building in small increments and short-term goals can make the journey palatable. Each week of marathon training involves a long day of running and that distance grows at 10%. If you asked me at week 15 if I thought I could run 20 miles, I would have said no. Instead, the training started at 10 miles.
For my business, I interpret 10% growth as one client at a time. Sometimes I can become frustrated with my smaller portfolio of clients. It is easy to compare yourself to other businesses in the area. But I constantly remind myself that growth comes with one quality client at a time. As I close out the first year of my business I have worked with many outstanding clients. I am sure next year, as my experience and reputation grow, I’ll add more clients to my docket.
Complacency is not the exact word I’d choose when you run a marathon. There is no fun complacent spot for a first-time marathoner, in my opinion. My only goal was to finish. What I can say, however, is that it is easy to fall behind the pace you set for yourself. My marathon involved four hours of cold rain and high wind conditions. Running alongside water made the rain move sideways. It was not a downpour but it certainly wasn’t fun either. It took a real toll on my mental strength and I definitely slowed down throughout the race. But at the final mile, my boyfriend was standing on the sidelines and started running alongside me. He reminded me to give everything I had and that last mile was a sprint to the end, I have a glorious photo of my pained face to remind myself. Never forget to give everything you have because you only get one chance run your first marathon,
Business complacency is a very different thing. Your clients will have standards for what they deem a successful relationship, especially in social media. Some clients hire consultants because they know they “need social media” but they aren’t sure what that means. It is very easy to be complacent and simply bring back basic positive results. But you need to push yourself. That is what will separate amateur consultant from one that takes it very seriously. I am always pushing myself to learn everything I can about social media and optimize strategies for each client.
In the end, I will probably never run another marathon. The distance was too far for my knees and I enjoy half marathons a lot more. Half marathons allow for you to run with your friends. But I learned a lot from my training experience and maybe my best marathon will be my business.
Have you ever run a long distance race? What did you learn from it? Drop a note in the comments below!