How My Copywriting Was Helped By Kayak Racing: A Small Biz Marathon
I recently read an article extolling the many benefits of quitting your 9 to 5 job and becoming your own boss. I'm not sure if the author was on a sugar high or was naive and completely out of touch with reality. They painted a picture more akin to a fantasy land of unicorns and rainbows. As an entrepreneurial copywriter and small business owner, I couldn't help but laugh. While many of the reasons cited in the article are motivation to become your own boss, it's not that easy. The author (and I'm not naming names to shame) would have you believe you will be flowing in the money immediately. All the while you will be traveling, making up your own rules, and becoming "famous". Nowhere did the article talk about HOW any of that happens nor the work it takes to keep your business alive. In fact, no mention of actual "work" took place at all.
I'm not going to deliver a Bob Ross-esque picture of happy clouds and birds in your pursuit of small business ownership.
Instead I'm going to warn you that you might end up working for the worst boss you have ever had.
Yes, you're now your own "horrible boss", and you've created your own rat race.
You'll force yourself to work 12-15 hour days, 7 days a week, without taking vacations or holidays.
You'll ignore your friends, your family, your happiness, and even your health.
You'll become a boss that keeps piling on more responsibility and stress until you break.
You will become the boss you wanted to get away from. Your dream will become a job you hate.
You will want to quit.
It doesn't have to be that way though.
You need to change the way you "race."
Instead of looking at small business ownership as a sprint to success, look at it as a marathon or an ultra event.
What does that even mean?
Not only am I a solopreneur/freelance copywriter, but I also do long distance kayak races. My goals this year were to start my own business and complete the MR340. I've found that success in both requires the same discipline, planning, and endurance.
You can't expect to complete a 340 mile race if you don't even know how to paddle your boat!
Here's how training to race is the same way you should "train" for business success.
Find and hire a great coach. You will save yourself a lot of disappointment and failure. Get someone with experience to get you to the finish line. They will help you navigate around those dangers you didn't see under the water. Make certain it's someone you like and respect, but make sure they hold you accountable as well. You're in it to win it at the end, not get a participation trophy.
Plan out your course. In an ultra kayak race, you need to know where you're going, when you're going to get there, and what you need along the way. Same with your business. Planning out each day for the week, deciding what items to focus on each day, and any courses or books to
Get yourself in top shape. You can't be at your peak performance if you don't take care of yourself. Think of running a business like being an athlete. You have to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise if you're going to compete. If you don't do those things, you aren't going to have enough endurance to finish what you started. You also will likely end up hurting yourself (and your business).
Race against yourself. Success isn't always about beating your competition. Sometimes it's as simple as doing better than you did the time before. Did you get an extra client? Send out 10 extra emails? So long as you keep improving, you're growing and closer to winning.
You won't always come in first. Much like racing, you aren't always going to win every time. Someone is faster or better prepared. Sometimes you hit a snag. In the worst case scenario, your boat sinks and you might not even finish. THAT'S OKAY! Don't let it stop you from trying again in the future. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from your competition. Some of the greatest success stories built themselves up after a long series of failures.
Pace yourself. Remember, being in business for yourself is an endurance race, not a sprint. You can't expect to finish a 340 mile race by going as fast and hard as you can nonstop. You will burn out and never make it to the end. You need to slow down and conserve energy so you can finish. Same with your business. If you put in over 12 hours day in and day out for months, you're going to stop caring. It's tiring, it's stressful, it's monotonous, and you won't be performing at your top level. Break up your projects over the course of hours, days...even weeks and months. Plan it out, and pace yourself so you stay fresh and at your best.
Give yourself days off to recover. When you train and race, you have to give your muscles days off to repair themselves. It's those rest days that let you come back stronger and let you perform more efficiently. It's the same way in business. As a copywriter, those days off help me to stay creative and energized. Any entrepreneur will find themselves uninspired and struggling without a little time off.
No matter what, keep paddling. Regardless of the obstacles along your route, or how slowly you seem to be going, you aren't going to finish (and win) if you quit. So keep paddling! Consistency is the key to entrepreneurial success. Eventually you'll find yourself turning the corner and seeing the finish line. You will have earned that prize.
Now you know what it takes to compete effectively as a small business owner.
Are you ready?
Sheral- Owner/Founder of C3 Specialties