Thursday, 6 October 2016

Fitness as a metaphor for business

Setting up a business is like getting fit.

When it all begins at first you are excited, determined to succeed and there's always a reason for doing it. You want to be healthier, shed a few pounds, lose the holiday weight. You need too earn money, convert an idea into reality and impose your business idea on the world - make your business a reality or turn your body into a finely tuned mass of muscle.

For the first few weeks and months it all goes great. If you stick at it things go well. If you shirk you will fail. The analogy holds.

Slackers fail early on but getting fit and starting the business go well. In the early days you lose weight quickly. Similarly those early business tasks are quick and easy rent an office, buy in stock, design a website, call a few potential clients. This can all be done in the first few weeks.

That's the problem though - the low hanging fruit. It's too easy to be beguiled by early success. In business the limited company is set up along with the Linkedin profile and you pick up a couple of clients early on. Maybe these clients are acquaintances or family/friends. They provide enough income to get you through the first quarter. Or you're healthier and try that first 10K race and manage to finish in a reasonable time.

Three months, or six months or a year on and now we are in a totally different situation. We're now maintaining our fitness or running the neophyte but growing business. Totally different set of skills are now required, more technical often and definitely needing a different mindset.

Once you're at a reasonable level of health you need to maintain things, ensure that your training regimen is pushing you forward not back. Different types of training - running, martial arts, cross training, walking all needed to make sure that next time the 10K is competitive.

The business is ticking along but you need to maintain what you have, keep existing clients and find more - the quick wins of early on are over and then, disaster. you lose an early client or fail to win a deal you expected to be easy.

To finish over-egging this analogy, you are days before that third 10K and you pull a hamstring. Maybe the training was too much (working too long hours) or perhaps you are over prepared (you have been bugging that existing client for an answer on an extension to your contract) or (in some ways worse) you stumbled unexpectedly in a ditch whilst jogging - just lost a client through external circumstances beyond your control.

Point is, setting up in business is like getting fit. Running a business is like staying fit - you need to be constantly be on your game, changing things up, trying new techniques and always preparing for the unexpected injury.

Discuss .....

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