Many of my high school cross country races were held at Holmdel Park in new Jersey. The course was notorious for a huge hill about two thirds of the way through every 5km race. Almost everyone would slow down and many would walk as they struggled to complete the race. The pain was greatest at this point in the race, and everyone else was taking it easy. Our coach’s advice was to do the opposite. He told us to accelerate up the hill! Those that avoided the natural tendency to slow down during the tough parts were more likely to pass competitors, more likely to remain energized for the rest of the race, and more likely to win.
This lesson applies to entrepreneurship too. Like a cross country race, entrepreneurship is full of major obstacles: key employees leave, you don’t get the funding you wanted, a major bug causes downtime, and a thousand more.
Of course, these events happen in big companies too, but when it is your baby and you are racing against time to reach your next milestone, the emotional impact can be huge. You even start to become jealous of your friends who work 9-5 in giant corporations! Especially when you have that particular thought, it’s time to realize that it’s time to accelerate up the hill. This is exactly the time you need to keep fighting and remember that you owe it to yourself to make it to the next challenge.
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Celebrating the highs comes naturally to most, but it takes discipline and determination to accelerate through the low points. Those that remain disciplined in tough times are more likely to win the race, whether that means having a successful exit, or having the ability to look back and say you did everything possible to make the company successful.