An Ironman triathon is considered to be one of the ultimate endurance challenges. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike followed by a 26.2 mile run, yes, all completed in less that 16 hours 59 minutes. Most finishers prepare for 6-9 months for a single event. Having completed 8 myself, there are numerous parallels to entrepreneurship and lessons that entreprenures can take away to make them more successful. I've highlighted three below.
1. Buy into and trust your plan. To prepare for an Ironman traithlon, you have to become profecient in three sports; swimming, biking and running. A typical plan will cover 2,800 miles, 375 hours of training over 6 months of time. All of that committment culminates into one race day. Before making that committment, the most important thing to do is to select and buy into a plan. You have to believe in the 'big picture' of your plan because it is difficult to see the day to day results. It is important to not deviate from your plan, because each day and its activities serves a purpose. As an entrepreneur, build a plan that your team can buy into. Remind yourself, that every day and every activity as mundane as it will seem, will serve a purpose towards achieving your goals. Stick to it.
2. Focus on what you can control. Ironman events are usually held in the summer time to maximize sunlight hours. Despite all of your training and preparation, you will not have the perfect race. A multitude of things can and will go wrong. It might be too hot, too humid, too cold, too windy. You may get a flat tire, lose your nutrition or your bike computer may break. These are all things you cannot control. Attitude is everything when things go wrong. Focus on what you can control and don't dwell on what you can't. Same holds true for entrepreneurship. Keep as much of your business' progess under the direct control of your team especially in the early stage. When things go wrong, don't dwell on it and have the attitude to perservere.
3. Never give up. During the course of a race, you will feel like quitting 10+ times. You will question your sanity, and desire to complete the goal you set out to accomplish. An Ironman athlete has the mental toughness to push through these mini walls and get to the next stage. We have a saying, "never give up". Good things usually happen to entrepeneurs that push through obstacles that sometimes appear to be game ending - never give up.