Whilst running and cycling, I have lots of time to think. During my last run, I was thinking about the similarities between training for Iron Man and launching a start-up business – they surprisingly have a lot in common. I’ll list some of my insights; & if you’re reading this and have some of your own insights, please feel welcome to add them in the comments!
1) Don’t give up
There are many times I want to stop, when climbing a mountain with my bike, when I just can’t get the right pace swimming. That also happens with a start-up, there are so many moments everything seems to go wrong and is against you. Always keep on going, that is the message here. Never give up, you’ll be so happy you didn’t in the end.
2) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Leaving your comfort zone is never easy. Getting to the point where you almost don’t make it is horrible. I remember the times I had to sleep in my car because I maxed all my credit to keep my site up. Or that I had to invite myself at dinner with friends because after paying the employees there was nothing left for me. The times a large client leaves are the worst. But these moments also make you more creative. More persistent. Somehow it makes you do things you’ve never dared before. And it turns out you have more power than you imagined. These are in hindsight always the best moments, turning points. This is what I think when I can not sit on my bike anymore because of ‘bikers bum’ aches. When my body begs me to stop after a long run. When my PT says 20 more push-ups when I have no energy left. A new unexpected source of willpower suddenly pops up and surprises you. And you’ll never be the same after. In a good way of course!
3) Have a big goal
In my companies, I always made sure I had a huge goal. It always sounded too ambitious to a lot of people. I needed the goal though, and truly believed it was achievable. I wanted to have the biggest website in the county, & make sure every single client is 100% satisfied. It helps to steer in the right directions. It helps to also make small decisions when you know the greater goal, and not get stuck in details. Same with sport. I am not the person that gets up and starts to cycle or run. Or even move a lot. So I set a goal, to live a hundred and to do a big sport event in the foreseeable future. And I let everybody know. So I feel pressure, it holds me accountable, and can not let myself fail. The longer term goals get more important than the short term goal. A big step, as my motto always was “Instant gratification is not fast enough for me”
Business me, in 2013, after achieving many of my goals.
4) Make small reachable goals (and celebrate!)
Big goals is great, but it takes time to get there. So it’s important to build in smaller goals. Every new record is special! Measure everything and celebrate the winnings. Push yourself to smaller new goals. Customer satisfaction at new high level? Huge publication in the news about your brand? Celebrate it with your team! I made sure my first 10K run or 80K ride was well worth a small party!
5) Be flexible
Nothing goes as planned. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan or to give up easily. What it does mean, is that inventivity is needed. Be creative. When I started my company, the name I really wanted was too generic – and not allowed by the authorities. So I added a small spelling mistake and one extra letter….now my made up word is more popular than the original correct spelling. I changed the Dutch language a little! Same with my triathlon training. My plan says running, but it is raining? Strength training instead. No pool available? Boxing can use the same muscles. Flexibility is key. There is always a way to get closer to your dream.