Running a business
It’s a typical start to the school holidays here in Bristol, slightly damp and overcast. It is the perfect weather for a run the dampness in the air though makes it easier to breathe, I had been told this before, but thought it was someone’s thinly veiled attempt to keep us all running through the drizzle and rain, but it really is true. My kit let me down today, my leggings were too hot and my ‘map my run’ app didn’t start until after the first two km – but I fear both actually were my fault….I have lighter leggings and I should have checked the app; rather than chat to my friend outside the nursery gates!
So for the next half of my run, I was thinking about how physically running is really rather similar to running a business. You must know where you are going (have a business plan, a strategy), but the most terrifying thing is always that very first step (setting up the company itself…). Sometimes my runs are easy and enjoyable. Sometimes (like today) more challenging and I feel exhausted; but I do always feel better for having got out there – something that is pretty much identical to meeting new clients and winning (or losing) tenders and pitches.
But the biggest similarities for me, come from the people you meet and the issue of confidence. This morning I saw:
- Very smiley women out running, giving me a cheery ‘hello’ – reminding me of all those colleagues and friends who call every now and then to see how I am, how work is going;
- A grandma and grandson head to toe in matching yellow sou’westers, prepared for the downpour and determined to enjoy their walk, the shrieks of delight were magic to hear; anyone who sees me in my red jacket, knows I am prepared for whatever the day is going to throw at me – and at the end of the day, with a glass of fizz, or a lovely cup of earl grey, I have been known to shriek.
- And then there was the chap on his bike, who was not going to budge. So I had to run out into the road to get around him, putting myself in danger because of his obstinance. We can all relate to people like that in business.
- Finally the lovely, lovely greeting from the butcher, on our high street (and my sometime recipe advisor) – “go Sarah, looking great”. Now at this stage I was not by anyone’s standards looking great. I was very damp (fortunately this meant the sweat was now camouflaged by the rain water); I was very very red in the face. And I was tired. Nine km in and all I could think of was my large cup of earl grey tea.
But what Graham did, was encourage me when I really needed it. And frankly, that it is the most important thing about running – physically, or running a business. If you haven’t got an encouraging word to say to someone who is trying their very best, don’t say anything. But if you can be encouraging, please do, you have no idea how much someone might need it.