The chronicles of a runner’s pursuit in business can be interesting to examine. There is the sprinter who catapults to the finish line just seconds after the shotgun blasts. The 800 meter runner must strike a delicate balance between endurance and speed. And finally the distance runner utilizes the power of the mind to stay in it for the long haul.

running a business

I’d never be able to find the strength needed to speed through the shorter distances. And I find the 800’s combination of speed and endurance to be downright excruciating. Even though I’ve always been a distance runner, in school I wasn’t even good at the longest distance (3 miles), often coming in towards the back of the pack. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I realized those distances were too safe for me. I needed the real distance of marathons.

It seems that going the distance has been my motto with everything in life, especially business. Just like there are many types of runners, there are also many styles of entrepreneurship. I’m not saying that one is better than another; it’s just interesting to compare and contrast the different types.

The speed racer tackles business — setting it up at breakneck speed, powering through like a maniac to ensure its success and selling it in just a few years. The middle distance entrepreneur combines a healthy mix of qualities that protect them from getting too sidetracked, letting a strong vision map an uncomplicated course.

And now we arrive at the qualities of the endurance entrepreneur. While some may admire us, I can admit there is a hint of pathetic quality to being endurance-minded. We’re faulted for letting our analytical side take over too often, miring in the details, strategizing every opportunity or challenge that presents itself.

But our strength is that we are trustworthy. Most of us are in it for the long haul because we have a love for what we do and whom we service. We won’t leave the cause for the shiny new thing. We are with you until the bitter end. But we tend to grow slowly because our love for the work lets us get a little too wrapped up into the business of the day.

However, loving what you do makes it easier for people to buy into our business. Clients, investors and staff can sense how you’ve made your work an integral part of your life and are more willing to put their hearts and heads with yours.

If you want to operate a marathon-style business, an interesting way to psyche yourself up is considering the race itself. Match your growth as if you’re attempting to get through 26 miles of straight running.

My thoughts on marathon mileage are really straight forward. Breaking the full 26. 2 miles into chunks makes the unfathomable distance much more approachable. Here is how I do it:

Race Preparation:

This is the most important part! You couldn’t even consider lacing up your shoes on race day without the grueling training runs that eat up half your weekend. But the little things can be just as important, like breaking in the right shoes and selecting the most uplifting playlist. Without all of this there is no race to be had.

How does this relate to business? The preparation is done through building upon the experiences you’ve already had, tapping into resources and mentors along the way. Other details like studying the competition or investigating loan options can help set the tone of your overall direction.

Miles 1-6:

keep shufflingForget about these. They don’t count. Your race preparations have made it so you’re not even breaking a sweat. The marathon doesn’t even begin until you’ve finished these piddly miles.

How does this relate to business? Writing off the early stages offers you the kind of bold attitude necessary for risk taking. View early failures as mini successes because you’ll get the important lessons over with.

Looking back, I don’t know that we took many risks in the beginning. Maybe we were too safe? It seems that we just continued to practice what we were good at, like a slow steady turtle, faithfully shuffling on. But when I am faced with difficult decisions now, I only have to remember the biggest risk of all (when Mike quit his digital marketing gig to join Veracity full time) and everything else pales in comparison. I’m glad we got that out of the way when it “didn’t count.”

Miles 7-10:

veracity signThis is your warm up.

How does this relate to business? This blog post was inspired by our move into our very first office. As we signed the lease I chuckled as I recognized this next phase in our business. It wasn’t that we were spending money on a lease that was important. Having our name on the door meant something. Experiencing the new-found energy bubbling up in our new space I realized we had only just begun. We were at mile 7.

Miles 10-13:

It’s preferable to go into “turn off” mode, go through the motions and meditate into your body, your music, your breathing — lean into the relaxing state of the running.

How does this relate to business? Since we haven’t been here yet I can only guess that this is when you would get into the flow of your business. Your warm up helped work the kinks out so you can build a steady foundation to hold future growth. Be happy, you’ve hit your stride!

Mile 14:

WOW! Before you knew it you were half way done. Way to go! Party Time!

How does this relate to business? While most of us don’t know our business’ true half way points, this is a healthy reminder to keep track of goals along the way. Every time I review our business plan and see that we’re on track I feel a sense of relief and pride.

Miles 15-18:

Things are starting to get serious, especially in the Portland Marathon where we are greeted with the grueling hill of the St. John’s Bridge. We know that this is where the true willpower kicks in, serving as a testament to our strength. We must push through and meet the other side of the miles.

How does this relate to business? Again, new territory here but I’d imagine as businesses grow their challenges increases. As you’re trudging up that hill don’t lose sight of the original dedication and vision that brought you here.

Miles 18-20:

We’re told not to train too far past mile 20 so we don’t know what pain there is to come. We don’t focus on what happens past mile 20 knowing we just have to get there first to find out. Hopefully we have planned ahead and organized some cheerleaders to push us through these mile points.

How does this relate to business? Possibly here is where the support of a solid team comes into play the most. You truly can’t go it alone, even in a solo sport, and when you’re at your breaking point sometimes the only thing that will keep you going is a helping hand.

Miles 20-23:

Mile Marker 20-23What happens here is as much up to fate as it is about your mindset and willingness to go the distance. They tell us not to train too far past mile 20 so we stay injury free. But I believe there is some notion of keeping your mind open and not too scared of this final length.

How does this relate to business? This might be a good point to remember the ever-changing landscapes we are presented with. Competitors rise up, technology disrupts our marketplace and more. Rather than fretting about this ahead of time, roll with the punches and adapt to change.

Miles 24-25:

This part separates the women from the girls. Some girls cry, limp off the course, and call their Daddies for pick up. But the women persevere. We might be dragging our bleeding, leaden feet behind us but we are going to make it through the finish line even if we have to crawl. We know our Dads are already at the finish line waiting to pick us up — they’d rather not rescue us from the middle of our disaster.

How does this relate to business? This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve made it this far. Don’t throw in the towel too early. The finish line is around the corner.

Mile 26:

Thank God! We are almost there! Who thought of this insane amount of mileage anyway?

How does this relate to business? When we feel proud to review the legacy we’ve left behind we’ll know we’ve reached the ending point and are excited to see what’s on the other side.

The last .2:Amy Halloween Half

Really!?! Is this necessary. This pure torture.

How does this relate to business? It may be torture for some of us to give up something we’ve worked so hard on, almost like another child or another part of us, but we know it’s best for us and everyone involved. As we unlace those shoes and store them away for safe keeping, we open a different door, questionably looking at the new equipment inside — golf clubs, art supplies or a new baby blanket.

At the end of the day we’re all just pounding the pavement.


Images used under the creative commons license CC0 1.0,  2.0 & 3.0.

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Amy Rosenberg
Founder and President at Veracity
Writer. Podcaster. Press Friend. Hand Holder.