Want to win the business marathon? Five ways to be a long distance entrepreneur

Will your business last the distance? Or are you set for a short and disappointing last place? Read five tips to help you be a long distance entrepreneur. 

If you’re running a race, you’ll know that you need completely different skills and strategy for a short sprint than you do a marathon. And running a business is no different.

Indeed, if you want your business to outlast the competition and reap the rewards you hope for, you need to pace yourself, and approach it with the same perspective as a long distance runner – as Gary Turner, UK MD and co-founder at Xero explains.

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Five ways you can be a long distance entrepreneur

‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ is a bit of a cliché, but if you’re getting a small business up and running, the premise is correct.

Success means careful planning, a lot of time, consistent effort, discipline, and patience – especially when the odds feel like they are stacked against you.

Although I’m not a marathon runner myself, I’ve watched others train hard for them, and the gruelling work, the exhaustion and the sheer joy of success are exactly why the two processes are so similar. So here are five tips to help you be a long distance entrepreneur.

1) Be clear about your goal

By signing up to a marathon, runners commit themselves to the undertaking. And visualising success is a huge part of your mental preparation.

Exactly the same principle applies for a small business owner. A clear goal (preferably a SMART one) will keep you on course and focused, and could mean the difference between giving up and digging deep when you start to flag.

2) Plan how you’re going to get there

Marathon runners have a clear training plan from the moment they start, covering everything from distances to pace times – and the rest days in between.

So once you have a business goal, create a detailed plan to get there, setting benchmarks and smaller aims along the way to highlight progress and keep motivated.

3) Know when to give yourself a break

When you’re training for a marathon it’s important to take days off to give your muscles a break. And it’s just as essential in business.

Xero’s recent research found that successful small business owners make sure they are taking breaks to give time for their batteries to recharge.

In fact, 52% of small business owners admitted that they wanted to give themselves more time off in 2017 than they did last year to prevent burning out. Looking after yourself means you can be at the top of your game.

4) Prepare yourself for the route

It’s vital to know the uphills, downhills and the water stops of the marathon route, and the same goes for your business.

Study what others have done in order to make their business a success, and be prepared for times when your business might be busier or quieter to help with the first few months of cash flow.

5) Remember you are not on your own

Training with a running buddy can help motivate you when you’re beginning to lag, or on days when you don’t feel enthusiastic about pounding the streets. But what about business?

Xero’s research learned that while a third of successful entrepreneurs have turned to a mentor or support group for advice about their company, only 14% of respondents who ran a business that had to close did so.

It’s clear that support is just as vital for entrepreneurs, and indeed can be the difference between making it to the finish line, and giving up. So know when to ask for help. Invest in professional support if you can afford it, and make good use of networking groups and online support. With a team to cheer you on you’re much more likely to win the race!

You can find out more about how Xero helps small business owners on their website.