I am 13 days from competing in my third Ironman and am at the point where all I do is eat, sleep, and breathe the sport. The effort and focus that the hours of training requires, as well as the strain that it puts on my free time, is not unlike what is required when you decided to launch a business. You know (and hope) that the blood, sweat, and tears will all be worth it in the end, so your passion keeps you pushing.
I’ve reflected on the past six months of training and realized that, no matter what you’re preparing for, the fundamental pieces of a plan must be assembled to ensure all the hard work goes toward something that has a chance for success.
You Need a Training Plan
Each day and week is a fine balance of different activities, each of which will prepare different aspects of your physical and mental readiness. There are long bike sessions, speed-work, base-building weeks, and recovery days all plotted out on a calendar that walks back from race day in a way that I am expected to peak at the right time. Similarly, you need to plot out the steps and tactics that need to be fulfilled to get your business off the ground. Think about the “physical” steps to set-up your website and marketing plan or the “mental” steps to get a loan or seed money, or build a financial projection. By writing down everything you need to do, and organizing it in a focused way, you can ensure that you will be ready for your launch date.
You Must Measure Your Progress
Once you’ve created your training plan, you’ll need to measure your progress to ensure that you are going to hit your goals as expected. There is a specific workout on my schedule that each time I complete it, I record my times to see if I’m still on track. From analyzing the progress, I know how to tweak my upcoming schedule. After you have created your business launch plan, make sure to schedule check-ins with yourself. If you need to put more effort into researching a credit card processor or negotiating a contract for a service, you will know to plan more time after you complete your check-in.
…But You Should Be Flexible With Yourself
Even if you have a great game plan, you can’t prepare for everything! Missing one deadline will not necessarily cripple the launch of your business just as skipped workout won’t affect your finishing time. If something takes longer than expected or you go down a path only to realize it’s not leading towards your preferred outcome, first BREATHE. By taking a step back, you can look at the big picture and either reschedule the missed deadline, or adjust your day to make sure you tackle all the to-dos to get yourself back on track.
Prioritize Your Weak Sport
Triathlon is unique because it’s not just one sport, but three, and if you are a weaker in one, you need to focus on building up that strength. As you build your business and turn your passion into a reality, it can be easy to focus on the excitement of the opportunity and skip over some of the monotonous tasks like estimating your taxes or writing a blog post. With some discipline and time carved out to prioritize your weaker skills, you’ll can turn what was a deficit into a strength.
Don’t Forget About Nutrition
No workout can happen without feeding your body right. When you build your business, passion will be one source of fuel, but it can’t be the only one. Knowing what you need when you don’t have the answer will make a difference in your ultimate business performance. By ‘feeding yourself’ small business meet-up events and industry websites, you will get new insights and approaches to the topics you might not have understood. These will fuel your business growth as much as the ideas that you can create alone.
You Might Consider a Coach
There are enough training plans online that you can go it alone, but it’s great to have advice from a coach to help you through the process. There might be a lot of internet resources available, but having access to that mentor – that person who can hone your abilities and be a consultant for you – can make a difference because of their previous experience and insights. Look to your family and friends, your extended network, or your industry to identify a mentor and start building a relationship.
You Should Invest in the Right Tools and Technology
Ironman is a distressingly expensive sport with a lot of equipment — though you can do the event on a commuter bike, you’ll be more comfortable (and faster) with a little bit of technology on your side. It is important to do the research to make sure that you pick the right tools for your business needs. There are some great free tools from Google to help you set-up your business, but if you need to something more sophisticated than Excel to manage your accounting, or you want to accept credit cards, you will want to explore the available options. You don’t want to just settle for what seems cheap or easy in the beginning as you might be more sore in the long run.
Don’t be Afraid to Fear the Unknown
Honestly, even though this is the third time I’ll toe the line, I have NO CLUE what will ultimately happen on race day. I will do all the preparation I can (and some days I know I will rock it), but I have a humongous fear of failure. Fear is a powerful motivator, and you can do everything you can to be prepared, but you need to release worry about what you can’t control. How you use the fear productively will make a difference in your business after launch. In the end, though, remember why you started this journey and follow through because you remember that finish line forever.
What lessons did you learn when you started your business? Share them with us!