No Finish Line

Posted January 6, 2011 by John Petersen

I like to run. Training for my first marathon, years ago, I remember thinking that I was doing something wrong, because my legs were constantly, painfully sore throughout the months-long training. That feeling was new to me. I was accustomed to physically adjusting to new running routines after just a week or two of soreness. But marathon training is designed to constantly push you slightly beyond your capabilities. Your body can't adjust, because the distances keep increasing.

So it is with startups. When you decide to build a business, you are committing to constant "soreness" throughout the startup phase. The business will always demand more than you can give, making it difficult if not impossible to reach a point of comfort, an equilibrium.

One difference between startups and marathons is that marathons have clear finish lines. As a youngster enthralled by running, I kept a Nike poster on my bedroom wall depicting a lone runner, silhouetted against a lake in the woods. The caption read "There is no finish line."

To endure the pain of the startup race, you can't run for the promise of a finish line that may never materialize. You have to love the running itself — the feel of wind on your face, the synchronous swinging of limbs, the solitude, the exertion, the exhaustion, the soreness.

Image Credit: John Terence Turner