April 2016

What businesses can learn from marathon runners

Author: White Rose Office Park

London Marathon Runner

With the return of the London Marathon on Sunday, we started thinking about all the businesses we see grow and develop each day here at White Rose Office Park. With many of our tenants staying with us for many years, we truly get to appreciate the old adage that running a business is a marathon and not a sprint.  

Whether you’re an SME just starting up or an established company, the advice is the same: pace yourself. If you start to quickly you’ll end up running out of steam far from the finish line and won’t be able to break into a sprint when the opportunity to move away from the competition occurs. In order to reach that ultimate goal of crossing the finish line, many of the tips for marathon runners can be applied to business.

Stay fuelled

A runner can’t complete the race if they become dehydrated and it’s the same in business. Businesses need to stay healthy and avoid burnout – this translates to motivation. Make sure you’re keeping a firm eye on why you got into business, as soon as you lose sight of this you’ll lose your motivation. Fuel your business by working efficiently and prioritising.

Focus on the finish line

Each of the 38,000 runners at that start line this Sunday has one end goal firmly in their mind: reaching The Mall. It is this focus that keeps them heading in the right direction, driving them to achieve. In business, your objectives are your finish line and while getting there might seem hard to imagine now, keeping a keen eye on your ‘Buckingham Place’ will keep you moving in the right direction.

Take note of each landmark

Many runners will mentally prepare for the 26-mile race by plotting the route in their mind – which London landmarks will they pass and when do they want to pass them? What will they see at the 5 miles, 10 miles, 15-mile points? By breaking down the Marathon in this way they benefit from the boost associated with hitting smaller targets along the way. Businesses are no different, while you end goal might seem a long way away right now, focusing on how you’re going to get there and what you need to do to hit the next ‘checkpoint’ allows you to take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come.

Start slowly

No runner will be starting the marathon with a flat out sprint, that would only result in total burn out far before the finish line, and businesses shouldn’t try it either. If you fail to plan for the future you’ll never achieve your objectives. Whether that means not throwing all your capital at it in the first year, refraining from over investing or making do with a smaller staff in the start, it’s important to think about the long game and how decisions now might affect performance further down the track.

Gather supporters

A cheering crowd can do wonders to spark a runner’s ‘second wind’ and give them the push they need to complete the race, and while we’re not suggesting you, employee, a team of cheerleaders, surrounding your business with those who believe in it is extremely beneficial. Avoid naysayers only looking to undermine your efforts and instead focus on building a network of supportive experts who are on your side. Be it a group of peers to bounce ideas off, someone to challenge you or simply a sounding board, building relationships with other successful entrepreneurs will allow you to steer each other back on the right track.

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