A marathon, not a sprint

Published by Jake Standing on 20 January 2022

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The start of each new year brings with it a blank canvas, new resolutions, and the hope of fulfilling one’s goals and dreams. This will definitely be the year I…

We all have the ability to shape our future, and achieve our New Year resolutions. So, are you on the right track, have you taken a wrong turn or set yourself up to fail?

As many of us start the year with new personal health and fitness resolutions, should we perhaps approach our business success in the same way? After all, business success is very much a marathon not a sprint.

With this analogy in mind, we can all learn from the lessons of the elite athletes, keen amateurs or the fancy dressed fun-runners alike.

The speed at which you achieve the end goal and reach the finish line is up to you and you wouldn’t start the race without some level of preparation.

Ask anyone who runs marathons for their tips and they focus on two key points, staying fuelled and keeping hydrated. Combine this with fitness and training, right equipment, breaking down the challenge into smaller goals, keeping pace and focus, positive mental attitude and you can see the pattern needed to succeed.

And don’t forget ‘hitting the wall’ – the last 6.2miles of a marathon. That point at which you have run for 20 miles but the end seems just too far away, how do you keep yourself going then?

Whether you run your own business or are part of a much larger organisation, the marathon analogy is, I think, useful. And whether you are thinking of entering, waiting at the start-line, passing the 20 mile marker, or approaching the home straight, remind yourself on what you need to see you through to the end.

Speaking to many business owners in the last few weeks of 2021, many feel they have ‘hit the wall’ thanks to the appearance of Omicron and the brakes it has put on many business activities.

We know from the research we carried out amongst business leaders (Q4 2021) for our Shaping your future report that, despite everything which 2020 and 2021 threw at them, 87% were still confident or very confident about the future of their business.

I do think Omicron has been ‘the wall’ for many business leaders and just when we thought the end was in sight, it has tripped some up. But this isn’t the only issue and for many people it also isn’t the most important.

Protecting the environment, equal opportunities in the workplace, improving the working pay and conditions for all – there are going to be many ‘walls’ to face.

So, what can we do to push past the wall and keep on going to the finish line?

Think marathon preparation:

Fitness and training

We know the drill especially with Omicron. We’ve been here before and we know what kept our businesses successful, for example maintaining good relationships and contacts with employees, customers, and suppliers, having sufficient cash flow and cash forecasting in place, and using technology to best advantage across our businesses wherever possible.

Right equipment

Is there anything you or your business needs that could be a real game changer, make you stand out from the competition and will make the last push for the finish line easier to reach? This could also mean having the right team of advisers and support in place to help you make decisions which are best for you and your business.

Smaller goals

Think about what you can achieve now, the small successes you can have on the way and the gains that you can make despite Omicron and the challenges it and other ‘walls’ will bring. As with the other phases of the Covid pandemic, the effects will be short-lived but they are still altering how we work, the focus of your business, so prepare to be flexible and change.

Keep pace and focus

Issues such as employee recruitment, retention, sickness absence and supply chain delays are all causing major concern across many industries. Business operations need to be scaled to deal with these issues as much of it will be currently out of your control. However, in the future, being a smarter employer will make a significant difference.

Fuelled and hydrated

Businesses need positive cash flow to keep them running and innovation and opportunities to enable long-term success. Opportunities can come in many forms, in our Shaping your future research, 56% of business leaders said are planning on exploring M&A opportunities over the next 12 months to help them grow. This will need to be balanced with additional cash outgoings as support loans become due for repayment, rates relief ends, and tax rates increase.

Positive mental attitude

The way to succeed is to believe you can, and to motivate those around you on your team to deliver it. If you have all the basics in place it makes it easier to deliver success, to achieve your goals and cross the finish line.

We have been planning ahead for the next 12 months (and beyond) with many of our clients. If you would like to have clarity on the year ahead and look at shaping the future of your business, then get in touch with us.

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