Running a business is like running a race!

Creative | Consultancy | Content

Running a business is like running a race!


** Congratulations to all the finishers in the ABP Southampton Marathons and London Marathon **

This time last year, I completed my first ever half marathon. I had been training for 5 months to run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon in my home city.

This morning, almost a year on, I laced my trainers and headed off out for a morning run. I’ve continued as a runner since the Southampton half and completed the Wirral Half Marathon in January of this year. However, over the last 6 weeks, my running miles have decreased and after this morning’s run, I feel as though I am back to the very beginning.

As I was huffing and puffing in the spring sunshine, it made me think about how running is very similar to growing a marketing business. Also that having discipline in business is as important as the discipline needed when training for a race – after all, none of us are born with these skills.

So how are they similar?


In order to run any race, or even to run in the first place – it starts with a goal. You need to have some where to get to and by when.

Goals are fundamental in marketing and in business. Again, you need to know where you are aiming for, where you need to get to and by when.

One of my favourite quotes is : “Goals are just dreams with deadlines”  I have always had the dream to run the London Marathon, and after yesterday’s race my thoughts turn again to how and when I could make that happen. I am thinking that 2020 being my 40th year would be a good goal.

In business we talk of goals being SMART:

  • Specific – It is no use saying “I am going to grow my company”. By how much? What is growth for your business? Is it turnover, profit, team size, locations?  The more specific the easier it will be.
  • Measurable – It is vital to know your starting point and your numbers to begin with. If your goal with running is to lose weight, you need to start with what you weigh now and then be able to measure. The same applies in business, you need to be able to measure the growth.
  • Attainable & Realistic – There is no point in setting goals that will never be attainable for your business. You have to be realistic and that applies to any goals we set in life.
  • Time – A goal needs to defined to include an end time so you know when it has to be achieved by.


I can set this SMART goal:

I will run the London Marathon in April 2020 and complete it in under 6 hours.

Time and pace

Learning to run a race or compete in any sport takes time. You can’t go out and immediately run 13.1 miles or even 4 miles without ‘putting the miles on your legs’. This takes time to gradually work up, with each run pushing yourself that little bit further or little bit faster. What would happen if you went out and tried to run 5k, 10k, a half marathon or even a full marathon, without any significant training over a period of time?  You would crash and burn and do yourself harm.

The same is with business. It can be tempting to try and ‘run before you can walk’; to take on more clients, projects and work before you are able to.  But what happens as you become busier and busier with work? Less time is spent on the actual business and getting the ‘ship in order’. From writing processes, nurturing and developing the team so that they can manage additional work and taking time to understand how to grow and develop a business, it all takes time.

It is about finding a pace and continuing with momentum over a period of time. If you try to make things happen quicker – before you are ready and able to, you will literally end on your backside wondering why your rushed.

Knowledge and Inspiration

No one is born knowing it all and no one should expect you to ‘just know’. People are not born runners. They may be born with a natural physical advantage which allows them to run with ease but generally, we can be taught how to run. The same applies to running and growing a business; some have more business aptitude and the business world fits more naturally to their persona. But, and just like running, by learning how to do it, studying how others have achieved and by gaining as much knowledge as possible on the subject, you set yourself in the best position to achieve.

Finding inspiration in the form of someone who has already completed what you would like to can help incredibly. By seeing how others have achieved success – whether running and beating their personal best in a race or growing a business into a new territory, there are lessons which can be learnt from others. I certainly felt inspired and proud of all the runners in the 2018 ABP Southampton Marathon and the London Marathon which also took place yesterday.

Belief and mindset

Often when I head out for a run, my mind is already telling me that I am not going to get to where I am aiming to. Either because I am tired, I have a mountain of work or because I just don’t want to run! By doing this, I’ve already set myself up to not achieve my goal on the training plan.  My mindset from the moment I wake up can impact my belief as to whether I will achieve what I would like to.

A positive mindset can give you more confidence. It can improve your mood and even reduce the likelihood of not accomplishing your goals. How great are those runs when you are feeling positive and confident? They are the runs when you have a bounce in your step, feel light on your feet and you are energised by all that is around you. And how are those days at work when you start your day with a positive mindset? The day is a joy, everything seems to work and flow, business is won and your team is happy.

In business, it is vital that you have a strong belief in not only what you do, but belief in your team, your clients and customers.  You must have a belief to succeed and to deliver consistently and to a high standard.

So in summary, don’t try to run before you can comfortably walk the walk, talk the walk and believe in the walk!

Author Jo Andrews, Managing Director and Runner!