Coming off of an awesome weekend engulfed in watching the CrossFit Games, the world’s largest competition to find The Fittest on Earth, I can’t help but notice the parallels between “The Sport of Fitness” and our day-to-day lives as entrepreneurs. The hustle, hard work, good days, bad days, victories, and losses are things any entrepreneur and CrossFit athlete can relate to. CrossFit itself isn’t a stranger to entrepreneurship, amassing a $100MM, fanatical business since it’s humble beginnings out of a garage gym in 2000.
Now one of the largest fitness companies on the planet, and showing no signs of slowing down, here’s 5 things we can learn about fitness and entrepreneurship from the the CrossFit crew and their wild success.
1. You don’t just show up one day and expect to win.
Fitness: Being the best at CrossFit, or any other form of fitness, requires dedication for months and years on end. Whether it is a 300 pound bench press, a sub 3:00 Fran time, or completing an Ironman, years of groundwork must be laid to get there. Whatever your goal is, find a well respected program to get you to that goal, and stick to it. Too often we jump from program to program, never understanding why we aren’t making any gains toward our goal.
Entrepreneurship: Be in this for the long haul. So many startups today have tunnel vision of exiting within a few years. Not surprisingly the vast majority of them fail. Be committed to growing your company for 10 years from now, not 10 months from now. GoPro cameras can be seen all over every city in America. What appears to be an overnight success story is actually an 11 year old company that committed from the beginning to be in this for the long haul.
2. Money does not have hands and feet.
Fitness: You can buy a bunch of supplements, the latest gear, and the best shoes on the market, and it won’t do anything unless you put your body to work. These “things” can aid in your growth as an athlete but only by you putting in the effort to take advantage of them. Start with hard work, and then worry about the rest.
Entrepreneurship: The same goes with raising funding. It can help accelerate your company’s growth, but you still have to bust your ass to get shit done. Money won’t do the work for you. In today’s startup ecosystem we tend to praise companies that raise a big Series A when in reality our reaction should be “Here comes the real work, because now you’re hand is in someone else’s cookie jar.”
3. Know what your competition is doing.
Fitness: “If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it” (thanks Ferris!). It is nearly impossible to progress in fitness if you’re not measuring yourself against your peers. Jason Khalipa, this year’s 2nd place finisher at the CrossFit Games, has “What’s Rich doing?” (*Rich Froning, the CrossFit Games champion) written on the wall of his home gym. Think he knows what his competition is doing? Absolutely. It’s tough to chase someone down in a sprint if you have no idea they’re right in front of you.
Entrepreneurship: It is easy to be blinded in a startup from knowing anything about your competition, because you’re busy building your own product. This can be a huge mistake that could cost you your company. Know what your competition is good at, know what they’re bad at, know what they’re better than you at, and use that information to navigate the entrepreneurial seas. I have a rule of thumb when selling that you need to know more about your competition than they know about you. How do you sell against your competitor’s newest feature when the prospective customer on the phone is the one that just told you about it? (hint: you don’t…)
4. Winners close. Period.
Fitness: Rich Froning, the now 3-time repeat CrossFit Games champ, was losing to Jason Khalipa virtually the entire weekend going into the last 3 events on Sunday. He hadn’t won a single event yet. What did Rich do on Sunday? He won all 3 freaking events to take the title. Winners find a way to close, and it’s an instinct that can be trained if you are aware of it. There’s a saying I love when it comes to fitness called “blood in the water”. It’s referring to when your competition is hitting a wall, slowing down, and weak. You need to sense that blood in the water and use it as motivation to finish strong and win.
Entrepreneurship: Just like an athlete’s resources deplete when working out, so do a company’s. From money, to traction, to motivation, your competition is fighting the same battles. Know that, and approach your business with a mentality of “I’m going to win this.”. Whether that’s in sales, business development, or engineering, It is very difficult to beat someone that won’t quit.
5. There is always someone out there trying to work harder than you.
The choice is up to you whether or not to let them. ‘Nuff said.
Have any parallels to fitness in your entrepreneurial journey? I’d love to hear ‘em!
Adam is the founder and CEO of Bodeefit, a daily body weight fitness company. He is also a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer in Denver, CO and startup veteran with Bodeefit being his 5th startup he has founded or worked for.
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