Anyone who has started a business will know that it is indeed a journey that takes longer than most of us realise at the onset. To see it through to the end will require one essential ingredient – Stamina.
Some friends of mine attended the premiere of a movie called The Way starring Martin Sheen and directed by Emilio Estevez. In the movie, Martin Sheen plays an American doctor who embarks on a pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago. Also known as The Way of Saint James, the Camino is an 800 km pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in the north-west of Spain.
Two years ago my husband took a month off work and embarked on this same journey. As I read his daily blog about his experience, it was clear that much like Martin Sheen’s character discovered, this journey was not for the faint hearted. Excerpts from his blog proved to be useful tips to help me along my journey into business.
[From the onset, I planned how many kilometres I was going to walk per day in order to reach my destination on time] – Most athletes know that to compete successfully, they have to train regularly. In my experience I’ve found that having a plan and targets is critical to keeping a nice steady pace. You can’t spend one week doing ten times the required work and then the other not paying any attention to the business. There must be a sure and steady application to getting the job done.
[The rule is for the pilgrim’s backpack to ideally weigh no more than 10kgs] – For obvious reasons, the heavier you are the slower your pace. In business, you also have to learn to shed excess weight. Sometimes the uphill journey can often lead to feelings of failure, disappointment or frustration. Whilst all are valid emotions, we must find mechanisms to help leave them behind and face each day with a fresh approach.
[Sometimes I would walk 8 hours or more each day. I quickly came to realise that success would mean physical effort, sacrifice and the right frame of mind] – The tests we face along the way simply ask us the question, are you up for the challenge? No matter how many books you’ve read or business start-up seminars you’ve attended, nothing quite prepares you for the rigours of the climb. It sometimes helps to remind oneself that this is normal and comes with the territory.
Celebrate the Successes:
[It takes a great deal of effort to live in the daily moment and not constantly think about the end. I focus on each stage and enjoy whatever it offers] – On the journey to success, there are often little wins that we overlook; a finished to do list, a call from a prospective client, a review on your product, a referral, a sale, a day finished without tearing your hair out, etc. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the ultimate success of the business and forget the little wins along the way.
Try Something New:
[I find out from a fellow pilgrim that sanitary towels act as very good insoles for boots because they prevent friction which can lead to foot blisters] – Whilst there is great benefit in having a routine it can sometimes get tiresome. Doing something new or differently can bring fresh excitement to the journey. No matter how bizarre it sounds, it might just be the idea to bring a turnaround in your business.
Revisit your Vision:
[Instead of focusing on the pain the journey was inflicting on me, I focused on the bigger picture] – When the going gets tough you can be forgiven for entertaining thoughts of packing it in. These are the times when you have to remember why you started the journey in the first place. Reading the stories of successful entrepreneurs, particularly those who started out small, is guaranteed to reignite the fire.
Take a Break:
[I stop at a cafe and have a coffee and chocolate pastry. I chill there for about 30 minutes before continuing] – As we focus on our action plans and the to-do list it’s very easy to keep working without taking a break. Overall this kind of lifestyle is not sustainable. We simply need to plan to rest as a vital part of our routine.
The Finish Line:
[ We hug, laugh and cry as we congratulate each other for making it successfully to Santiago] – It helps to always remember that every race has a finish line. Every dedicated athlete adheres to strict training because of the hope of winning a prize. Likewise, as a business owner, a certain amount of trust must be placed in your strategy. Keep to your plans, maintain a tenacious spirit and see it through.
*This is the first of a few posts I wrote ages ago for Women Unlimited. As I’m embarking on a new business, I’ve been reliving some of my previous business posts and will be sharing the rest as time goes by.