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The Endurance Athlete's Plan for Entrepreneurial Success

If entrepreneurship is a marathon, you need to train for it like an endurance athlete. Here's how.
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Entrepreneurs and marathon runners have a lot in common. When I ask a marathoner or an entrepreneur what makes her tick, the response is usually something like this: "It takes a crazy person to do what I do. So, I guess I must be crazy." 

It’s not that simple, of course. Every marathoner works from a training plan to make sure that his or her mind and body are ready for the big race. If you train properly, race day is just another training session. 

Being successful as an entrepreneur is no different. What, then, separates the true endurance athletes from the weekend warriors? 

Get comfortable being uncomfortable for long periods of time.  Believe it or not, this will become a badge of honor.  Most of your work as an entrepreneur requires you to try new approaches, to push yourself beyond your limits. This means that you will fail a lot. You will struggle for funding--a lot. You will lose customers and opportunities--a lot. It’s all part of the training process. Your response to rejection is as good a determinant of your entrepreneurial ability as your response to success.

Adopt a resilient mindset. You are going to have some tough days; days when you question your own sanity and want throw in the towel.  Much like a marathon, the entrepreneurial experience is long, twisting, and filled with ups and downs. Every successful entrepreneur and marathoner I have talked with believes mindset is either your biggest asset or your biggest barrier. The pros handle it by maintaining an objective mindset that looks at setbacks as opportunities for improvement.

Embrace others like you. Working in a vacuum is not going to help you finish the race. Runners find running partners or join running clubs. They get faster because they push each other. They become stronger because they share tips for nutrition and avoiding injury. You can do the same thing. 

Connect with other female entrepreneurs. Get together to practice your pitches, test your demos, and talk about go-to-market strategies. Working together will give you practice and insights while creating the relationships that will push you forward.

Don’t over-train. In my first few years as a runner and professional, I over-trained, thinking it would make me stronger and better, and prove that I belonged. Instead, I burned out. You will not succeed if you have 10 No. 1 priorities. Identify your top three goals. Don’t do anything that won’t make a big impact on your progress toward those three.

At conferences, I have heard several speakers tell up-and-coming women entrepreneurs and executives that they should say yes to any high-profile opportunities. I disagree. Go after new opportunities only if they’ll help you achieve one of your three big goals.

Measure. A good plan incorporates key performance indicators to track your progress. It also helps lessen risk by proactively addressing problems. What measurements will tell you that you are making progress?  How often should you track your progress?  What are your biggest obstacles?  Which do you need to address and which can be ignored? 

Good training plans are based on proven techniques that focus your efforts, establish the right mindset and build physical stamina.  What will you put in your training plan?

Last updated: Jul 31, 2012

Scholar-practitioner, experienced high-tech marketer and advocate for meaningful innovation, PATRICIA FLETCHER is passionate about leveling the imbalanced technology playing field to include all the best innovators. She blogs at www.psdnetwork.com and tweets at @pkfletcher.
@pkfletcher




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