12 Things The Gym Taught Me About Running a Startup
I am happy to share today that I have achieved my fitness goals that I aimed for over 12 months ago. It took a lot of handwork, dedication and support from my family. During this time I have noticed strong parallels between getting fit and running a startup. I would like to share my thoughts here, and I invite you to write me to add more.
- You must know what you are getting into.
Losing weight, getting fit and being healthy is something that you must really want at your very core. The same goes for running a startup company. There is a lot of romanticization of both life styles, but they are not for the faint hearted. They take a lot of hard work , persistence, commitment and the will to over come failure and obstacles.
- You need a plan with clear and achievable goals.
Just like with exercising, running a startup needs a clear plan with attainable goals. Small initial baby steps like validating your ideas, getting your first customer, and testing your market will provide you with the required confidence to move further in your plan and investment.
- You need to act.
I have wanted to join a Gym and get started on exercise for a least 1 year before I took the simple action of actually getting started. Big mistake. The same goes for business. Act to get started even if you are not clear on how to move forward. That can be something simple like creating a product website, getting a friend or relative to partner with you, running a simple product survey. Just get started, and things will roll from there.
- Adjust your routine.
Often when exercising you will plateau, and what used to work for you stops working. That is an indication that you need to adjust your routine, diet, sleeping habit and intensity of your exercise. The same goes for your startup. When sales stall, you need to quickly figure out what is wrong. You may need adjust your product, customer service, or delivery mythodology. It maybe a new competitor or that your product does not provide the value that you thought it need. Move quickly to figure out what is wrong and move with purpose to fix the problem.
- Enough Sleep and a healthy diet are 70% of the game.
As Entrepreneurs we are problem solvers, and for that we need focus, mindfulness, and a healthy mind. That can not be achieved if you are always tired, or if you live an unhealthy life style. It is tempting to pull all nighters and eat fast food. Stop. You are hurting your startup more than you know. Manage your time properly to ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy and spend time with your loved ones.
- You can learn a lot from others, but you must have your own plan.
With getting in shape it was key for me to learn from experts in the field. However, I quickly found out that I needed to create my own plans as everyone is different. The same goes for running a startup. It is important to read as much as you can about the experiences of others, their tips, hacks, and strategies that worked for them. However, what will eventually work for you will likely be a combination of things that are a best fit for your company, your customers and your team. Find that best-fit.
- You will fail and often. Get up and keep going.
At a startup and at the gym the path to success is littered with failure. A failed milestone, dissatisfied customer, under-performing product, failed investor pitch, disappointing revenue outlook… What is important is to learn from these failures and to move forward as quickly as possible. Don’t get bogged down with the mental feeling of failure. Mentally register the joy that you are doing something different and independent. Enjoy the fact that you are pushing yourself, and your team out of their comfort zones.
- Mental fitness is critical.
When I have an off day in the Gym, it can be due to many reasons, sleep depraviation, dehydration, or a poor diet. However, equally the failure can be due to a mental failure preventing focus and persistence. The same is true when running a startup. It is important to have enough mental strength and determination to carry on through challenges.
- Move with purpose.
What I walk onto the Gym floor, I know precisely what I plan to work on that day, and why. I have a clear purpose in my mind. The same goes for running a startup. As a leader, it is important to have a clear plan of action for each day and understanding the why behind everything. First, you have to explain it to everyone, but also it allows you to easily change priorities, and plans when required.
- Need the buy-in from those around you.
Being committed to a demanding exercise regiment, requires a huge time commitment that can not happen without the support of those around you. The same goes for running a startup. It requires a lot of time on nights, weekends and being on the road to talk to customers, partners and investors. You need to have your home front in order before you embark on such a voyage and it should be clear to your family why you are doing this, and what they will get from it.
- Recruit those closest to you.
Just like when exercising, One thing many enterpreues over look is the huge amount of help that their friends and family members can help them with often at no cost. Have a clear task that fits the capability, and capacity of your new recruits. Things like walk-about advertising, answering emails, or company phone, graphics, managing your appointments, proof reading your documents, website or speeches, heping you choose colors for your website, or doing it altogether for you from scratch, running product surveys, etc…
- Most importantly, have fun.
If you aren’t having fun, then you will fail. Stop, and find something that brings joy to your life.
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