15 Oct What Powerlifting Taught Me About Growing A Business (4 mins)
In September 2015, I took part in my first competitive powerlifting event. I rocked up to a sports hall in Welwyn Garden City, England, with 30 other lifters; wearing a seriously-unfashionable leotard, and also covered in chalk so I could undertake six hours of lifting heavy weights.
As a newbie who had only trained for three years, I had hoped that maybe I could get into the top four or five. Turns out that I won, beating every other competitor in my weight class – and in the class above me.
I walked away from the competition buzzing not just with pride and adrenaline, but also with ideas and insight. Indeed, I’ve learned that many people suffer from the same condition as I do – the need to apply lessons from every area of life to the world of business.
Well, here they are. This is what powerlifting has taught me about growing a business. Enjoy!
1. Plan SMART
It’s often said that we inhabit a fast-food world. When we want results, we want them to be great – and we want them immediately.
This mentality can easily creep into other areas of life. When I started powerlifting three years ago, I soon learned that if I was eventually going to lift 3x my bodyweight, then I needed to approach my training as someone would prepare for a marathon.
This meant planning SMART. In other words, I needed to determine:
Specifically, what exercises, nutrition and lifestyle choices would I need to achieve my goal? How would I measure my progress? What weights were actually achievable for me to lift in the long term, based on my overall health, age, sex, nutrition, size, past injuries and training consistency? What weights should I realistically aim to lift this year? Taking everything into account, how long would it take to be competitive at the regional level, and then at the national level?
In a similar vein, businesses take time to grow and succeed. You’re probably not going to make millions straight away with your product, service or value proposition.
Set realistic business goals. How many prospects do you want to attract in the first six months? How many of those do you expect to convert into sales? How much repeat business do you anticipate from your customer base?
Once you’ve answered questions like these, put measures in place so you can accurately and objectively evaluate your progress over time.
2. Embrace the Risk
Certain things in life do seem less risky than others. I’ve certainly been told, on many occasions, that I’m asking for a serious injury with the weights I’m lifting.
Perhaps this comes down to your personality, and I guess there’s a debate as to whether risk-aversion is something fixed or changeable. However, both powerlifting and business require a willingness to take on significant risks.
That doesn’t mean being careless. When I lift over twice my bodyweight, I ensure that safety rails and “spotters” are there to catch the bar in case I drop it. I warm up carefully before every exercise. I don’t push my body beyond what it is telling me in that moment it can handle.
The same goes in business. If you see a profitable opportunity to expand, and that’s part of your goal, then seize it. Just ensure you minimise the risks as much as possible, and put safety nets in place.
3. Get a wise, experienced mentor
The internet is a great place to find information and tips (e.g. this blog!). There’s also much to learn from your own studies, and especially your own experience in business.
However, getting an older, wiser mentor to help you goes such a long way. In my powerlifting, nothing has quite helped me like my friend Chris – an experienced, older powerlifter.
With his help, I’ve been able to avoid injuries I would have otherwise have inflicted upon myself. My training plan is also more refined due to his critical insight and observations.
Never think you’re above the need for a mentor. There are many minefields in business, and you can navigate them better with the helping hand of someone who has walked through them before.
4. Have an answer to the ‘Why’ Question
When you’ve been doing anything for a long time – such as a job, your marriage, or a sport – times will come where you wonder why on earth you’re doing it. In those moments, you need to remember “why.”
This has happened in my training. Within the space of three years, I have hit multiple points where I’ve thought: “why are you putting yourself through this?” “Why endure all this pain when you could be at home watching Breaking Bad on the couch?” In those moments, I take some time out and consciously-remember why.
I do it because I love it, even though I’ve hit a wall with it right now.
I do it for the long term health benefits, and be fitter in old age.
I do it so I can enjoy my diet.
I do it to look good.
I do it to find out what I’m ultimately capable of.
I do it to make my family proud.
I do it to retreat into my own space, and rid myself of stress and negative thoughts from the day.
I do it because I’ll never get another chance to do it again.
These moments will come in your business as well. “Why did I start this thing? It hasn’t arrived at the place I had hoped.” “Why is this so much harder than I thought it would be?”
In those critical moments, have an answer to the “why?” And if you’re just starting out in your business, make sure you have at least a big chunk of that answer planted firmly in your soul beforehand.
As the Marketing Coordinator at Ratio7, Phil is responsible for devising tailored marketing strategies for his clients; generating engaging and informative content; and ensuring brand consistency across all of Ratio7’s communications. Phil has a passion for creating powerful corporate brands, and suffers from a borderline-unhealthy addiction to Google analytics.
In his spare time, Phil can be found training for powerlifting competitions, watching Jason Statham movies, and playing acoustic guitar at open mic nights.