The physical and mental health benefits of hiking have been well documented and if you’re looking for me at the weekends, you will most likely find me in the hills. Being in the great outdoors, removed from technology and social media, allows me the time and space to think about and process things in a way that isn’t always possible in our busy, connected world. During a recent hike, I reflected on my experience of running a small business over the past year and how my love for hiking has helped me on this journey.
What could running a small business and hiking possibly have in common?
To save or to splurge?
Before embarking on a hike, you need to equip yourself. While there are certain items you can save on, there are others that require a bigger investment. High quality walking boots and a waterproof jacket are top of list. While it can be tempting to buy cheaper items, spending your money wisely will give you a much better quality product and will save you having to replace them in the short to medium term.
Cost is a huge factor when running a small business but it’s so important to avoid false economies. Buying cheaply can result in more expense further down the line. Look at your business and what tools you specifically need in order to provide the best product or service for your clients. Buy the best quality that you can afford and save on the non-essentials.
Find your tribe
I’ve only ever done one solo hike. It was World Hike Day in November 2018 and my usual hiking group weren’t available. So I took myself off to Glendalough and walked the Spinc loop alone – in the rain! I enjoyed the hike and felt liberated for doing it alone, but I was also taken aback by how lonely I felt. I came to realise that part of what makes hiking so special to me is the relationships that have been built along the way, being part of a community where we encourage each other and pick each other up when we fall.
In an earlier blog post, I spoke about the importance of building a support network for your small business. I’ve been so fortunate to have met some amazing people so far in my business journey. Some of them are local, like the #LouthChat community on Twitter, or the Network Ireland Louth group. Others are online, like the How Great Marketing Works group But they all have a number of commonalities. Community. Friendship. Support. My journey would be a lot less exciting without them at my back.
Enjoy the journey
Hiking is not just about reaching the summit, it’s about the journey. It’s about being at one with nature, chatting with friends, exercise, headspace and so much more. When you’re working hard to get to the top, take a moment every now and then to stop and take in the view. Look at how far you’ve come. And on those wet and misty days where the views are a little harder to see, you can still enjoy the experience of the hike.
As an entrepreneur, running a small business will bring daily challenges. It’s not about becoming a millionaire (let’s face it, most of us won’t!), it’s about the journey. Be grateful for the challenges you face and the learning that comes from them. Welcome them all and become a stronger person because of them.
There’s more than one way to climb a mountain
Many mountains will have several paths to the top. There will be those well-worn tracks that many have walked before. They’re tried. They’re tested. They’re comfortable. Alternatively, there may be steeper tracks, with more challenging terrain. These tracks demand more time, effort, focus and determination. They also offer adventure, new ways of learning and adapting, risk, reward and exhilaration. There may be times when you want to experience the adventure of these steeper tracks and there may be times when you just want the most straightforward route.
When running a small business, you will be faced with different paths and you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of each. Does the potential reward of taking a particular path warrant the level of risk involved? Only you can decide.
Decide which works best for you and remember that there is more than one route to the top!
With the best preparation and the best equipment in the world, there are some things you just can’t control. I’ve been on hikes where the wind speeds became so strong, I had to anchor myself for fear of being blown away. I’ve been on hikes where I’ve been completely soaked through. But do you know what? All of those experiences were temporary. They all passed.
I’ve faced some small adversities so far in my business journey and I have absolutely no doubt that there are more to come. It’s all part of the entrepreneurial rollercoaster, or so I’m told by those who have walked the path before me. And while those adverse conditions will be unpleasant in the moment, I know that they too will be temporary. They too shall pass.
Both hiking and running a small business require effort, endurance and risk-taking. Neither are for the faint-hearted. But when you are willing to make sacrifices and step outside of your comfort zone, the rewards can be endless.