New Business Start-up - a Marathon Not a Sprint

by : andypoole

I have just trained for my sixth marathon and as it was for the previous five, it took a lot of training, over a long period of time.

My first marathon experience came when I entered the London Marathon in 2002, as a result of one of those late evening conversations, "hey, wouldn't it be a good idea if...". I'd been doing a bit of gentle running prior to that just as a means of keeping fit but nothing of that nature and in the cold light of the next morning, it seemed an enormous project and how could I possibly achieve it.

Well, there is only one way to achieve it and that is to train steadily over a long period of time and gradually improve fitness, endurance and performance. Obviously, no-one can just go out and run a marathon just like that, you have to learn to run the first mile and then the second and slowly build up the distance until you can run 26 miles. That's pretty logical and not many would think it could be any different.

Why is it then, that when we start a new business, we think we're able to run it straight away with lots of customers, bringing us lots of trade and making us a fat profit? I think it's because we think of it more as a 100 metre sprint where we burst out of the blocks, with our heads down and run full pelt until we hit the line, when in fact it is more like running a marathon, a steady paced effort that sees you through to your goal.

We might have the far distant finishing line in our sights but we have to train and build slowly for it. From a standing start of inexperience, we have to learn how our new business works. We have to know if our product is right. Is it competitive and more importantly is it what people want to buy?

If people do want to buy it how are you going to let them know you can sell it to them? People just don't magically turn up, they have to be persuaded to come and buy from you. Unless you're incredibly lucky, this will take time. Progress can be slow as your advertising slowly kicks in or your word of mouth recommendations start to spread.

If you've planned properly for this, you'll have the resources to see you through the initial period when it's mostly about outgoings rather than incomings. As each day goes by though, you should be that little bit better trained to achieve your success. You will have days when things have gone well and you feel that are doing the right thing and then you'll have the days when they don't go so well and your goal seems unattainable.

Just like when things get tough for the marathon runner, this is the time to dig in, get your head down and keep pushing away. You have to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint and that it will take time but one day you'll cross that finishing line and what a day that will be.

Remember, creating a successful business is like running a marathon - it's a hard thing to do but with dedication and the right attitude you can plan for success.