Want to run a business successfully? Run a marathon.
By Aniketh Jain.05 Jun 2019 .
4 min read
Over the years, I have become extremely passionate about running. I’m always on the lookout for marathons and have participated in several of them around the world. The most recent one was the Italy Run that took place in New York City. On Festa della Repubblica (Italian Republic Day), the entire city was filled with green white and red, as thousands of people came together to celebrate Italy republic and support the strong and long-lasting relationship between New York City and the very large Italian community living there.
Seeing so many people unite, come together for a single cause, reminded me of one of the reasons I started running. My wife, who is a certified yoga instructor and a global marathon runner, instilled this passion of running in me. Once, I started there was no going back. The feeling of pure satisfaction and inner peace as you finally see the finish line, run a little faster and take a step across it, is something that cannot be put into words. Running a marathon has taught me a lot about running a business.
Short term goals should align with the long term goal
Small goals are what get things done. Whether it be pushing yourself to wake up at 6 AM or training hard before the marathon, all these small goals ultimately get you to your bigger goal of successfully finishing the marathon. Which then helps you come closer to the even bigger goal of running in the Boston Marathon. Similarly, running a business requires patience and hard work. The smalls goals- the work that you do every day, also provide immediate feedback that allows you to adjust the long term goal. For example, if my annual goal is to set foot in 6 new countries, but in the first quarter I’m only able to set up in one other country then, I would adjust my goals accordingly. The purpose of this annual goal is to provide direction so that, we can align each and every activity that takes place in the company to achieve that particular goal.
What works for others might not work for you
Every runner has a different strategy, style, and goal in mind that actually motivates them to finish the race. Yes, I do take inspiration from successful athletes and people I know who run regularly, but I have my own style of running. Ashish and I follow the same rule while running the business: Look inward into your organization for the unique factor that sets you aside. I think this advice is more important for small businesses. They often tend to look at the big giants, get intimidated and try to copy their style. More than 65% of startups fail within the first 4 years. I encourage startups to discover themselves and find a style that sticks for them. I am always rooting for the success of startups, regularly mentoring them and actively investing in deep technology startups, that have a core focus on B2B.
Feedback will take you forward
Without feedback, we can only do what we think is best. With regular and constructive feedback, we can beat our best and do better. This is important for leaders in business as well. Yes, they need to be independent and resilient, but having peer support is vital. In my own experience, I have learned so much from my colleagues that I can proudly say that Kaleyra would not be where it is today, without all of the people who have been a part of it. Furthermore, being on the other side of things and working on something by ourselves, clouds our vision about the reality of it. We often tend to look over mistakes and skew our judgments. Having a third person who can give you a reality check might take you 1 step back in your process now but, will ultimately bring you 2 steps forward.
Being uncomfortable is part of the drill
When we initially start running or engage in any kind of training, we strain our bodies. It gets difficult to breathe, we are uncomfortable and want to make it stop. But, it is important to remember that this difficulty has come as a result of being out of our comfort zone. With more practice, our body gets used to it and what once seemed impossible now seems like a piece of cake. It is the same in the business world. If you are starting a new business, everything is an unknown territory or if you are running an existing business there are new challenges that come up every day. It is important to keep your cool at all times. The more you push you and your team to find a solution to this new problem, the better prepared you are for the next challenge.
Running a marathon isn’t on everyone’s bucket list. However, if you are in a leadership role, it is important that you find something outside of your comfort zone, practice it and get comfortable with it. No book, podcast or article on the internet can teach you about something as much as experiencing that something on your own. So go out there, do something different and run your business successfully.
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