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Business Lessons from a Half-Marathon: Resources Matter

I ran a PR in my first half-marathon in 2009 (hold your applause, please). I'd been pounding the pavement for the better part of eight months to get ready for it, and it paid off (thanks, Adrian, for the recognition). And, I've got 11 more of these bad boys this year.

Running a half-marathon is trying. It's hard. You exert a lot of effort only to end up (most of the time) right back where you started. But, it's also fun. Really fun.

If you have the right resources.

I hate going for long runs when training for a half. But it's not because I hate long runs. It's because when I run 9, 10, or 11 miles on my own, I never have the same resources that I do on an actual course. There are no water stations at miles 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 or 10. There is no one to stop traffic. No one is cheering me on. And there's definitely no one to give me a medal when I cross the finish line.

This is part of the reason I enjoy signing up for 5ks and running to and from the race. Depending upon the location, I can run to the race start, where they'll have refreshments. Then, I can run the 3.1-mile race, where there will be more water. And then I can run home, where I have all the comforts I need.

And it can be the same with running a business, particularly a social venture. Ideas and optimism will only get you so far. Resources make the difference.

So, since I had two hours to think, here are some half-marathon reflections related to starting and growing your own business as it relates to resources:

Know what you need from the beginning.
It's easy to say you need money when starting a business, but what will you spend it on - literally? People? Advertising? Technology? Thinking about the resources you need will make sure you've got them lined up in order to get where you're going. Yes, needs change, but your need for them doesn't.

Find a good cheerleader.
Disney's course had high school cheerleaders, marching bands and DJs all along the route. While they didn't quite give me a runner's high that propelled me to the finish line, they were helpful and reminded me of my desire to finish the race, especially at mile 9, when I wanted to stop. Find a good cheerleader for yourself. Who believes in what you're doing? Who knows you're talented and capable of succeeding? Your mom? Your husband? Roommates or best friends? Sometimes, valuable resources can't be bought.

When the resources run out, make a decision.
If there were no more water stations, fruit or music along the rest of the course after mile 9, I would have stopped and called a taxi. It would have been miserable and stagnant to try to cover the last 4.1 miles without any replenishment or resources. But, I continued because I knew they'd be there. When your business is out of money, out of time, or out of whack, you need to make a decision - either get the resources to get you to the finish line, or call it quits. You can stall forever. Don't. It won't make you successful and is really just a waste of time. Get what you need or go home.

See you in Birmingham on February 15!

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