Momentum Podcast: 829
Business is an Ultramarathon
by Alex Charfen
There is far too much mythology and messaging in the entrepreneurial world today about how quickly you can create success. The myth of the overnight success story and entrepreneurship is just that, a myth. There's always more to the story.
There is so much of this messaging that it has convinced entrepreneurs who are actually succeeding in growing a business that they are doing it wrong because it's not going fast enough. It has made people doubt themselves, question their judgment, and compare themselves to others in a way that just isn't fair.
In this podcast, I share the reality of entrepreneurship to give you confidence that you are doing it right, you are exactly where you should be, and it's never been easy for any of us.
This may be one of the most important episodes I've recorded.
For support with your business, navigate to simpleoperations.com. We are looking forward to connecting with you.
Also mentioned: adoutreach.com
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast. One of the biggest issues I see in the entrepreneurial world today is that the marketing more exposed to the products were exposed to the messaging were exposed to has led us to believe that all the solutions we need are just one tactic, one product, one piece of information away, and everything in our business is going to get easier. Now, I want you to know, I believe that if we do have the right tactic, the right product, the right piece of information, we can radically improve our business. We can go through massive periods of growth. We can change a lot in our business. But if you're an entrepreneur who's running a business for real and you want to grow something to multiple seven figures, to multiple eight figures and beyond, then I want you to understand something. The messaging that we hear is misleading a lot of the time, and it is creating an impression for us that isn't healthy because business is an ultra marathon, not a sprint. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for Empire Builders Game Changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will? We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be. This podcast came out of the last event we did as well. If you're listening to my podcast and you know, every time I do an event, I end up recording probably 4 to 7 or eight podcasts based on the discussions that we have at the event. And it's because we just have such extraordinary members and extraordinary conversations at our events that that is where so much gets worked out and so much comes out. And so, so much of value happens when you're in the room at one of our events. And this event was no different. And one of the discussions that we had over and over again is that business is an ultramarathon. Business is. And when I say ultramarathon, let me share with you what I mean by ultramarathon. You know, ultramarathons are what it is, 23.6 miles. I've run a half marathon. I did pretty decently. The coach that I used to learn how to run half marathons, the coach that I used had a radically improve my running was a woman named Amanda Macintosh. And Amanda is an extraordinary human being. She is an ultra marathon runner and she was the winner not once but twice of the Leadville 100, which is a 100 mile marathon run in Leadville, Colorado. That begins at an altitude where planes typically pressurize their cabin with oxygen, like where we would have trouble breathing. That's where it starts. And you run uphill for 70 miles and downhill for the last 30. And Amanda Macintosh was an ultra marathon runner who coached me for about a year and a half. And that's what I mean by ultramarathon. And the difference between being an ultra marathon runner like Amanda and being a business owner like you and I, is that once you finish an ultramarathon, you pick up and start another one. You might take some time off, you might take a week off, you might have some breathing room. But running a business is an ultramarathon. You know, it's one of the hardest things that anyone will do in their lifetimes. It's one of the hardest paths that you can choose as a human being to start a business, to take responsibility for yourself, to take responsibility for decision making, especially in the early growth of the company, to declare that your independence as an entrepreneur, to build a team and learn how to work through other people, to delegate time, to delegate projects, to eventually delegate success, to go from delegating time to projects to success, to having people on your team that then go out and create outcomes in your team, on your team for you, and to delegate decision making to those around you. It is one of the most difficult things we can do, but it's also one of the most rewarding. It's one of the most spiritually, spiritually rewarding because we guide this, this entity, this, this, this machine called the business in a way that we go out and we make an impact on other people and we help the people around us and we help our team members grow. And we see them grow and we see them mature and we see them do more in our businesses. It's incredibly rewarding for ourselves personally, because when you start a business, you have this concept of what you're capable of. And as you grow it to six figures and then to multiple six figures and then seven figures, and then you you start building a team and you you delegate to that team and the team grows and you see the people around you grow and you learn how to hold space for that, that greater group of people you see yourself grow. So in no way am I discouraging you from growing a business. Quite the opposite. I just want realistic expectations because here's what I think is happening in the entrepreneurial world today. There is so much messaging and so much mythology around the entrepreneur that was successful overnight, around the entrepreneur who did everything in 90 days, around the entrepreneur who built a multimillion dollar business in just a couple of quarters. And you know what? There are people who've done stuff like that. But if we take out a microscope and we start interviewing that situation and we get behind the scenes, here's where we find the person who started $1,000,000 business in the last 90 days has been running businesses for a long time and knows marketing incredibly well and set everything up for speed and already knew where he was going to find the list. And you know, is doing it from maybe the fifth or the seventh or the 10th or the 20th time. And it makes everyone around them think, Oh, I need to do this in 90 days. And there's too much mythology around this, there's too much messaging around speed and how fast it goes and how easy it is and how how, you know, stress illicit is. And I think we need to reverse this in the entrepreneurial space. It's unfair to you. It's unfair to me. It's unfair to the entrepreneurs out there that are growing businesses and doing well, but feel like they're failing because it's hard. They feel like they're failing because it's not going fast enough. They feel like they're failing because they're not an overnight success. Well, I want you to understand something as an entrepreneur. Every failure we have, every challenge we have, every time that we face resistance, every time that we are running those 70 miles uphill so that we might hit the 30 mile downhill. I think the other thing is that sometimes, more realistic about the ultramarathon in business is instead of 70 miles uphill, it's like 90 miles uphill and ten miles downhill every once in a while. But when we are in that place where we're running uphill, when we're in that place where things are extraordinarily difficult, when it feels like, you know, we're building a team, but we want to have everything or we just want to go back to doing it all ourselves. I want you to know every entrepreneur out there has felt that way. Every entrepreneur out there has experienced those challenges, has experienced that constraint, has experienced that frustration. Regardless of what the story that is told is, every one of us has felt like a failure. Every one of us has felt like it's not going up fast enough. Every one of us has felt like we are facing more resistance in the people around us. We have more challenges than people around us. And the truth of the matter is that starting a business, like I said earlier, is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your lifetime. I share with entrepreneurs that starting a business is one of the most difficult paths you can choose, if not the most difficult path you can choose as a human being. But it's also the most rewarding. And I think we need to start talking about that. You know, I want to share with you that that's what reality is. And having worked with hundreds of businesses, hundreds of entrepreneurs up close and personal, hundreds of executive teams, hundreds of leadership teams, you know, I've had a long career. Never once have I encountered an entrepreneur where everything went fast and easy. Never once have I encountered an entrepreneur that was a real overnight success. Not once. Even the ones that are young. You know, one friend of mine here in Austin named our Hack, and he is absolutely extraordinary at YouTube. He has a company called Ad Outreach and he shows other organizations how to build a YouTube department or other companies that are companies like mine, how to build a YouTube department so that you don't have to have a YouTube agency. And he runs a business that has had over $10 million in annual revenue. And the business, I think when it hit 10 million, was only in its third or fourth year, maybe even less might be in the second or third year. I might be selling him short. That sounds like an overnight success, like an incredible success. And at the time, I think he was 22 now. It was not an overnight success. Our kick started his YouTube channel when he was 11 years old or 12 years old. He had been on YouTube for a decade. By the time he started Ad Outreach, he knew the platform inside and out. He was making money on YouTube just from YouTube, paying him for putting videos up. So even he had an ultramarathon before he started Ad Outreach. And you know what? He had a lot of revenue come in and a lot of success come in. And it's still an ultramarathon. So when we hear stories of the overnight success, I think it's incredible what our editor, he impresses me as much as any entrepreneur ever has for what he's been able to do. But don't get caught up in the mythology that it was overnight. There was a tremendous amount of work that happened before that. There was a decades-long commitment while he was in his tween and teenage years. I kind of laugh because it sounds funny to even say that, but it's true. It's true. He wasn't an overnight success. There was a ton of work that went into that. There was a ton of experience that went into that. There was a ton of learning and challenges and issues and frustration that eventually led to him having enough knowledge and understanding where he could start an incredible business that changes the lives of entrepreneurs, that puts people on YouTube and helps them be successful. But the mythology of overnight success and the reality of how much time he really put into it are two completely different things. And here's why I'm sharing this with you. I'm sharing this with you to let you know that if things feel challenging right now, that's okay for us as entrepreneurs, they always are. If things feel like they're not going fast enough for you. I've been an entrepreneur for 30 years. I can't remember the last time they felt like they were going fast enough. I can't remember. I don't I don't know if I've ever felt like things were going fast enough. Like I was satisfied with the speed of where things were going. I think that's a permanent condition for us. As entrepreneurs, we always want things to go faster. If you are experiencing resistance and challenges, congratulations, it probably means you're right around the corner from a success because every single one of us, regardless of where we are in business, what size of our business is experiences, challenges and resistance. And I want you to understand this. When you see the messaging that makes you start comparing yourself to other people, I want you to understand this, that when you see the messaging that makes you feel like you're doing it wrong or you're not successful because it doesn't feel like the marketing message or the message that you're hearing or the mythology that you're hearing in front of you. And I want you to remember and understand and know that every single entrepreneur out there is running an ultramarathon. It doesn't matter what their numbers are. It doesn't matter how fast their growth is. It doesn't matter how easy they make it look from the outside. Every single one of us is in one way or another, in our own ultramarathon. Every single one of us is working through challenges and frustrations and issues, and there is no such thing as an overnight success with a perfect business. If you listen to my podcast, you've heard me tell you what a perfect business is. Before a perfect business is one that has no customers, no challenges, no team members, no frustrations, no issues, no marketing issues, no lead generation issues. It's closed. The only way you have a perfect business is you shut it down because that one has no problems. As long as you are doing business. You will have challenges and issues. Stop even thinking about having a perfect, perfect business. Start thinking about having a business that's adaptable and can overcome issues. And a team that understands how to face issues, whether they're in the market, whether they're internal, whether they're from competitors, what businesses always have issues. And every new stage of growth brings with it an entirely new stage of challenges. And let's get real about our personality type. If something is too easy, if something is not a challenge for us, if something doesn't feel like we are conquering Mount Everest, it's probably not something we want to do. Bruce Lee, incredible entrepreneur, entrepreneurial personality type, an entrepreneur as well said don't pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to overcome a difficult one. And I don't think he was saying that for us to call in a difficult life. I think he was saying that because he, too, knew that everyone faces challenges and everyone faces difficulty. And so if you're facing challenges, if you have frustration, if things are happening for you, remember you're doing it right. You are on that ultra marathon and with focus and determination and discipline and taking care of yourself, radically good care of yourself, and learning the strategies that will help you build an infrastructure of a business, build operations in your business, they'll profitability in your business. You will continue to make progress in this ultramarathon, but as long as your business is open, it will always be work. It will always be challenging. It will always be something that you wake up in the morning and say, I am working on something today. You never get to the place where everything's easy and there are no challenges and there's nothing to work on unless you shut it down. And I hope this message resonates with you. And I hope if you've been in a place of comparison of looking at other people and thinking poorly about yourself or thinking challenging about yourself, if you've been in a place of resistance and you're blaming yourself because it doesn't look like anybody else around you is facing the same level of resistance if you've been in a place of frustration and it is discouraging you from doing what you're doing because you just feel like you're the only one who's dealing with this. I hope that this message helps you understand that not only are you not the only one. We are all in the same place and it's probably confirmation that you're doing it right. Thanks for being here with me today. I appreciate you listening to the podcast. If you know someone who needs to hear this message, do me a favor. Copy the link right now and send it to them. And it's been a long time since I've asked for this, but I took a look at our podcast page and we are not, we haven't gotten a lot of testimonials on Apple recently or any type of reviews on Apple recently. And so rather than ask you to come to our website and sign up for a call today, I've got to ask if you've been listening to the podcast for a while, even if you're a new listener, if you would take a minute and navigate to the two Apple podcasts and leave a review, I read every one of them. I share them with my team, they keep me going and they give me a ton of momentum. I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes and do that for me today, and I look forward to talking to you on the next episode.