A Marathon called Entrepreneurship

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I have been running the Mumbai Marathon for the last 6 years (1 Full, 4 Half and 1 Dream Run) and just ran the half marathon yesterday. I have been an entrepreneur for the last 4 years and have my own consultancy for Films – Magus Entertainment (www.magusentertainment.in). Sometimes I feel that running the marathon prepared me for taking the entrepreneurial journey. Of course, I have been an avid adventure sports enthusiast and risked everything under the sun (and above!) while paragliding, scuba-diving, waterfall rappelling, bungee-jumping etc. But the sustained training for marathon every year is what prepared me the best- psychologically and physically.  Moreover, some of the best ideas (including writing this article) have come to me while running as the brain is too tired thinking of irrelevant things!

Some of the lessons learnt:

Goals are not only about soccer

While we are running the immediate step is step that we have to lookout for the most. Unforeseen ditches, stones, slippery surfaces etc. can make you trip instantly. However we need to keep a lookout for a distance of about 6 feet to preempt any obstacles. The final distance is very long and if we keep focusing on that all the time it appears insurmountable. Taking a step at a time and crossing the bridge when it comes (literally!!!) makes up for a good run.

Similarly expecting obstacles yet managing the unexpected hurdles is the hallmark of a good entrepreneur. Keep the long term goal in mind but focus on the immediate needs and keep steering and adapting yourself.

No Pain..No Hurricane

When you start running the pains that terrorize you in to thinking that you are having major injuries besiege you. Though a visit to the doctor is justified, don’t get overtly stressed on them. They disappear after a few miles and you get used to them while running regularly. Proper gear and style also helps in mitigating them.

Entrepreneurship starts with a lot of social lashing out with friends and society doubting your objectives and you yourself being in self doubts several times. It’s also about having to forego your ego, getting back to traveling by buses and trains, sacrificing the exotic meal, foregoing vacations and sometimes people too. It’s always lonely at the top and most of the times on the way to the top too. So get used to these pains. If you complain about it to another entrepreneur, you will get to hear even worse stories from them.

It’s all about teamwork

Running is also about teamwork. Elite runners have ‘pacers’ to run with them. It makes you focus on the run without your mind getting tired unnecessarily, thinking about the daunting distance ahead.

Entrepreneurs need a co-founder to bounce of their ideas, share their struggle and complement their skills.

What you need .. When you need.. indeed

One of the most critical aspects of long distance running that you figure out only after doing a few is the food and water intake. Planning for water intake is very critical. Most marathon runners drink more water towards the very beginning as anything ingested takes about 20 minutes to be processed and hence drinking water when you are extremely thirsty doesn’t help.  In a similar manner eating/drinking too much during the run leads to lethargy and stomach cramps, impeding the run badly.

Anticipating infrastructural and monetary needs well in advance and planning for them accordingly is a good way to proceed. Of course stacking up excess funds and diluting equity much earlier is not the way ahead either!

An army marches… a flock just gallops

Long distance running is about waking up early morning, practicing regularly, measuring food intake, managing rest and sleep.  An extremely fit CEO of an MNC died recently while practicing not because he was unfit.. but due to lack of sleep. Your passion has to be supported by your professionalism.

So while achieving your Revenue and Business goals is crucial to keep the investors interested or the stocks aiming for the sky, don’t get burnt out by ignoring your health. After all we are humans first and entrepreneurs next!

YOU is a three letter word

The beginning of the race is the most exciting part. You are joined by numerous enthusiastic runners.. cheer leaders.. music. You are in high spirits and high energy, ready to conquer the world. A few miles ahead you see fellow runners falling back or racing ahead of you. That’s normal.. you have to find your own pace and not waster energy competing with others. Your pace will depend on YOU and YOU alone.  You have to motivate yourself and sustain the momentum. You know yourself the best!

Jumping from one idea to another just because someone else is doing good in that business is not the best way to start a business. You know your idea the best and have a passion for it. So go after it with whatever it takes. Don’t be subdued by what others think of how they are faring in their respective businesses. It only slows you down and dilutes your energy. Compete with yourself not others!!!

Cat has nine lives.. So do you

Bravado works only in films where the hero runs the race despite being injured badly.  Don’t kill the Golden Goose- YOU.  Despite all your preparations, you can always have a bad day. The weather might change suddenly or you might have a freak injury. My second half marathon was marred due to an accident I had a week before. I decided not to run that year and ran the full marathon a year later!! I have seen people fainting in the midst of the run or getting severely injured due to exceeding their limits- ruling out any future participation. Why risk life and limb when you know there is always a second chance.

Entrepreneurship is not just about you; it is also about the business environment. Sometimes the best-run businesses can go through a bad business environment. Try to adapt first. If things are still difficult, take an educated call and lie low for some time. The ordeal that you would have gone through makes you a seasoned person to start something new again!

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