Running vs. Running a Company

Trofholz Team Running

13.1 – that’s how many miles a half marathon is. When you think about a person actually running for more than 13 miles, it seems crazy! Why would a person put their self through that kind of torture? What drives someone to even want to run a half marathon? Since I have never been a runner, I could not even begin to understand why or how someone would run that far and definitely never thought I could ever do it.

13.1 – that’s how many years ago I started Trofholz Technologies as a Sole Proprietor (while we didn’t incorporate until 2002).  Some of my family and friends thought it was crazy to quit my job to start a company so soon after the .com bubble burst. Why take that kind of risk when you have a steady paying job? No matter how foolish it seemed to others, I really believed that I could do it.  So, I took action and did it!

Running a half marathon or marathon has often been compared to running a business. This past year, I decided to put that concept to the test. And wow! I couldn’t believe just how similar it was. The journeys of each are so analogous, and the 13.1 miles and 13.1 years made it even more symbolic.

You must first start with a plan and set realistic goals. Just because you decide to run a half marathon, doesn’t mean that you can do it next week or that you will be able to win a race. What goals are important or what defines success is different for everyone. When you start training, getting past the first 2 miles seems so hard but once you do, mile 3 and 4 feel great!  In business, making it past the first 2 years is such a milestone that in years 3 to 4 you are really able to excel if you stay focused.

Every mile and every year past 4 is rewarding and challenging. There are ups and downs. There are energizing times and then there are those long exhausting stretches that seem like they will never end. Distance running takes a lot of self-motivation and playing mental games with yourself to keep you going. As a CEO, a big part of my job is to keep others motivated. When you spend all of your time motivating and guiding others, you eventually get to a point where it becomes difficult to motivate yourself – let alone others. This is when having other motivated, positive people around can push you to keep on going. In half marathons, there are people all along the path with signs that are yelling out their support to help you stay motivated and you can have a running buddy that pushes you just a little bit harder. When running a company, your business partners, other business owners, your customers, and even your own employees can provide the encouragement to keep on going or maybe sprint just a little faster!

There are also times on a run and with a company that you simply just need to slow down. Maybe you need to walk a little or stop for a moment to stretch and drink some water to reenergize. In a run, you must remind yourself that the entire point is to simply cross the finish line. In a half marathon, the definition of success is different for each individual. But in the end, everyone that crosses the finish line has earned their 13.1 sticker!

Once you’ve completed your first half marathon and earned your sticker, then it becomes a matter of do I do it again? Maybe the answer is no because you are happy just being able to say you did it once. If yes, how fast do I want to go next time? Or, do I do a different type of run? Maybe a trail run, maybe a mud run, or maybe go all the way to a marathon!

In business, it’s not necessarily about crossing one main finish line. There are multiple goals along the way and different paths that can be taken. At Trofholz, we were fortunate enough to hit many of our past goals and now we must focus on what’s next.

At Trofholz, we successfully completed our 8(a) run! Now, we need to take action to ensure that we complete our next run. We may not know exactly what this new trail will bring, but we do know that just like preparing for a half marathon or marathon – it takes training, it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes positive attitudes, and while it may take longer than we want, we all can accomplish what we put our minds to!