3 Key Success Factors For Marathoners And Entrepreneurs

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How marathoners and entrepreneurs are tied together by some fundamental characteristics and habits

Not before running my first marathon race ever back in 2009, it became clear to me what are the components typical marathoners and entrepreneurs are sharing. It’s not enough to be a happy runner searching for fitness to understand what it means to run a marathon.

Put on your sneakers and go out for a run when you “feel for it,” is like going to work on a random basis. Neither you will be a runner improving your running skills or a professional employee. If you are trying to run your own business with this attitude, the results will most probably be a big fat failure.

The trigger to start running marathons at the age of 56 you can describe with one single word:

The Challenge!

For sure the challenge is something that marathoners and entrepreneurs have in common. But it’s such a general character and it goes for many other activities as well.

It wasn’t until I decided to quit my corporate job four years later and was triggered by building my own online business, that I clearly could recognize 3 “must” habits or characteristics that have to be applied by both marathoners and entrepreneurs.

You can find multiple articles about what marathoners and entrepreneurs can learn from each other, and they are delivering valid and very appropriate input.

However, trying to come down to the very basics and find out some factors that never can be missing, the following three should always be there.

Goal setting

Sounds very simple and easy but to set a goal goes beyond what you might have been accustomed to in other occasions. The goal setting should be what I call “white” or “black,” and no “grey scales” are permitted.


In other words, either you do it, or you don’t. Imagine that you are going to jump from one cliff to another. If you miss the jump, you will fall down several hundred meters with the fatal consequences you can imagine.

It’s OK to say:

“No, I don’t jump.”

But once you jump, the alternative should only be one: reach the other side.

A real goal should have a non-reversal alternative built-in. Either you do it, or you don’t. Further, the goal needs to fulfill some other criterions. See my blog post “The 5 Mandatory Rules For Goal Setting That Always work.”

Before I decided to train for my first marathon race ever, I analyzed very carefully if I had all the necessary ingredients to make it happen. I ticked it off one by one; health, time, motivation and so on.

When I started my entrepreneurial journey, building my own online business, I did precisely the same ticking off procedure. Once the goal was set, there was not available any back way out.

Many people fail with their goals already in the goal-setting process, as they allow themselves to keep that “back door” open. The New Year resolutions are typical examples of goals without full commitments. It’s not a strange coincidence that most of the resolutions fail already in February.

Both marathon running and entrepreneurship are long-term activities. Prepare yourself to fail a lot. But your long-term goal will never stop you because of a short-term failure.


undefinedThe whole project is a journey. If the final destination is the goal, then the planning is the route. Typically you can choose among many different routes. They will all take you to the same destination, but you will always analyze and go for the most optimized way.

One of the critical parts of a proper marathon training is to have in place a training program. It should be a detailed program. Every morning you should know exactly what to do; long run, interval training, hill training, or maybe a rest day.

Successful entrepreneurship works precisely the same way. You know exactly what kind of work you need to do every single day. Sometimes you have to do tasks you are not very fascinated about, but as a professional entrepreneur, you just do it.

Remember the decided route towards the goal. Not every part of the route shows up with a nice and fantastic landscape. Some parts can be rough roads via not very attractive villages, but you just have to pass through.


undefinedDuring the journey, it will happen more than once that a little voice behind your ear will tell you that you can skip doing what you have on your schedule for today. Marathoners and entrepreneurs never listen to those voices.

Another word for obeying the “voice” is procrastination. Learn here what to do about it.

The discipline to fulfill the program you have planned for is the ribbon tying together your goal and planning.

When training for the Boston Marathon qualifier some years ago, the goal setting and the planning were both set to a finish time of 3 hours and 54 minutes. When lining up for that race, I was so confident that I should make it because I hadn’t failed with one single training session according to the plan during one year. The finish time 3:49:16 didn’t surprise me at all.

Exactly the same goes for your business. The power of putting together the goal setting, the planning, and the discipline in one unified tool to achieve the final goal, cannot stop anybody.

Summary Of Key Factors Tying Together Marathoners And Entrepreneurs

  1. Take your time before setting your goal. Once established, there is no “back door” available
  2. The planning is the execution of the whole project. The more details you put into your plan, more likely it will be to reach your goal within the established time frame
  3. The discipline to get the things happen according to your plan is the lifeblood of the whole project. With a detailed and well-edited plan, the risk for deviation will be small. However, you are the only one who can control and look after that the plan will be executed as it should be. You are the only accountable individual for your project.

This TED-talk event explains excellently what marathon running and entrepreneurship have in common to share.

No matter if you are a passionate runner, golf player, swimmer, painter or whatever you would prefer, the leverage between what you most love to do in life, and your business can be achieved by anyone.

Be proud of what you are doing, earn money and have fun.

Click below and join the "Pride-Earnings-Fun" movement!


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