Enough was enough.
I was getting bored with my routine and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. I kept repeating the same actions over and over again and I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel that just couldn’t get off.
I know what you are thinking and it probably was replaying in my head too, but I just didn’t apply it to this circumstance. For some reason I was expecting different results by doing the same actions. We all know that’s not possible.
So what do triathlons and your small business have in common?
Absolutely everything and I am going to share four valuable lessons I learned so you don’t have to do a triathlon to learn the same lessons.
Find the Fire
After I had my third daughter, a friend and I had HAD it with our extra baby weight. Those extra “lbs” were hanging around way longer than we wanted and what better than to start training for a triathlon. (ha!)
I know. We could have just started a new intervals or burn routine or just started running. But we wanted a challenge. Something fun. Something that stretched us. Something we could do together. Something we could even show our kids how to do something that took courage.
Well courageous we were.
We took swimming lessons. We woke up at crazy early hours. We rode our bikes in the same industrial park so many times that we could have done it blind-folded. We also laughed so hard that sometimes we peed a little. Yep. I said it. Let me remind you, we have had three children. That happens. Right moms? Please give me an “amen” here.
Starting your own business begins with a fire in your belly. Embrace that. You can harness that fire and that passion to push forward and do hard things. After all, changing the world (or at least the industry you are in) has never been easy. It takes grit and grace in the perfect combination to make a big impact and disrupt the industry.
Train with friends
If I am totally real with myself, I would have never thought about doing a triathlon. Like ever. It really wasn’t something that was even on my radar. It was my accountability partner’s harebrained idea and it meant there was no backing out of 5 am runs before our husbands left for work; 6pm training classes and open water swim practices in local lakes.
When I felt the least motivated or the most afraid, having someone there pushing me and not taking “no” for an answer, is what got me to actually register for the race. I wasn’t going to do all that work and NOT do the race.
In business, having a power partner, a business bestie or a mastermind guru, will make all the difference when it comes to accountability. Your friends may let you off the hook, but your accountability partners will not. They will not give you an easy exit out the back door when you have been talking about your goals and your vision on repeat. It is also way more fun to run your business along side people who are encouraging you.
If you need to find business friends, join your local chamber of commerce, find some groups online or join networking groups for entrepreneurs and put yourself around more people that lift you up as they climb too.
Sign up for the course
Taking classes saved me a ton of time trying figure it out on my own. It also helped ensure I didn’t die during the swim portion of the race.
I didn’t know how to swim and if I wanted to make it out of the swim portion of the triathlon alive, I needed to take the classes that went beyond my third grade swim level. I had no idea how to turn my head and breath without choking or kick my well-built mama-thighs with any sort of efficiency. I also didn’t know the tricks to avoid having my goggles fog up or the best technique to put my swim cap on without having a cone at the top. There was so much to learn and I had no idea where to start on my own.
Thinking you can figure out starting your own will cost you time and money. Get more training; hire a strategic brand coach; take the virtual masterclass and put yourself around people who are growth-minded business owners. This will create more ideas for your own business and give you the expertise from a consultant who has done what you are looking to do in your own business. It also creates a safe place for crowd sourcing so you are more likely to ensure you don’t have blind spots.
Invest in the right gear
I didn’t really want to buy all the gear that was necessary for a swim, bike, run race but there was no way around it. I am competitive enough to know that I didn’t want to come in dead last of the race. The idea of being just in front of the police chase car holding up all the traffic just for me was a nightmare I had more than once and I was not about to let that happen.
That meant buying a lightweight bike frame, racing tires, clip-in riding shoes, a water bottle cage, a bike computer and really sexy looking padded bike shorts with draft-free riding tops. And that was just for the bike portion of the race. That didn’t include the swim and the run gear needed. It was an investment and I didn’t get it all at once. I made a plan to space out what I knew I would need during the course of my training, and budgeted accordingly.
Starting a business to make money means you are going to have to spend money to make money.
There’s no way around it.
Finding the best tools at the best prices is essential. There will be some things you need to invest in that are the best of the best and other things will be fine to just get you started. Prioritize what you you need the best of and what you need to just get your feet off the ground. Work toward those other things as you go.
One of the tools I could not do without in my business is Canva Pro. For the small business owner, this tool is powerful and affordable for social media, presentations, banners, business cards and so much more.
Watch the pros
Showing up to get my race packet forced me to be around others who knew exactly what to do because they had done races before. They did things like map out their space in the transition area for their bikes. They laid out a towel on the ground with their running shoes. They had their shammy across the seat of their bike and they clipped their shoes into the pedals. They had a strategy on where to position themselves for easy starts. They visualized their route to get to the first buoy of the swim and where they would come in to get ready for the bike portion. Then they mapped out their bike-in route to start the run and had their energy shots ready to take once they started the run.
I wouldn’t have learned any of that if I wasn’t around those athletes. That is where you learn the things no one explains in the class, but you need to know.
As a business owner, the same principle applies. You can take all the courses you need to be educated in what you do, but sometimes you need a professional to help you see what is around the corner. Those professionals know the path to take and are willing to share techniques they wished they would known. Take notes. Ask questions. Shadow them so you can see the things they may not even realize they do that you need to do. It will save you so much wasted energy.
Creating a branding strategy doesn’t just happen by accident. You have to be intentional and make the plan so you have something to stick to and also so your audience knows what you are about. Once they know your mission and purpose they will hitch their wagon to you and you will have the start of a beautiful business relationship built on trust, purpose and service.
My postpartum triathlon training and all of the adventures that went along with it, certainly got me out of my comfort zone and stretched me further than I thought I could go. I never won a medal for speed or efficiency, but I achieved so much more in the process. I wouldn’t trade the lessons - or the laughter - for anything.
It also prepared me for the businesses I would start years later.
My girls were 11, 8 and 5 when I started my first direct sales business and now as I have added another social marketing company and built from the ground-up, my own Strategic Brand Coaching and Design business, Branding You Big, LLC, I have been able to model all of these lessons for them over the past twelve years.
What about you? What have you done to challenge yourself through discipline? I’d love to hear about it.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how this stretched you.
If you are a business owner, direct sales consultant or an entrepreneur, you can also grab my free checklist to create your own strategic brand that will no doubt grow your revenue, deepen your relationships and increase your referrals.