Business Profitability and the IronMan: Three Similarities

boutique business coaching goal setting growth Mar 14, 2023
Ciara Stockeland competing in an IronMan race with text

At officially six weeks out from Ironman Texas, I’m beginning to dial up the training time and intensity and dial in my competition mindset. This week, as I continued to ramp up my training load I had the opportunity to speak to a local small business association about “What completing an Ironman taught me about my business profit”. 

Most people are enamored with the idea of completing an Ironman. I know I was! I used to watch the annual Ironman Kona event on ESPN and wonder how the human body could make its way through a day of swimming 2.4 miles in the open ocean, biking 112 miles up and down the lava fields in the heat of the day and then finish off the day by running a full marathon on the roads of the Big Island. I loved watching the race while loudly declaring “No way, not for me!”. 

So when I found myself considering the idea of signing up for my first Ironman race in 2021, I could barely believe I was bold enough to chase the Ironman finish line.

There are so many similarities between training, preparing for and executing an Ironman and the bold chase of entrepreneurship. I will share with you three similarities I found between competing in the iconic endurance event and chasing business profitability. 

1. You must identify your weaknesses. 

As we all lined up for the swim start line the MC was making small talk over the loudspeaker. “Whose swim today is the first IM swim”? And then the question I never expected: “Whose swim today is your first open water swim”? Several people raised their hands! I couldn’t believe it! Who would do their first open water swim the day of a race? I knew going into my training that open water swimming was my weakness. And so I made myself find lakes and dark bodies of water to jump into and prepare for race day. 

The same thing goes for your business. If you know numbers are not your forte or that you struggle with financials, don’t leave your success to chance. Show up, dig deep and confront your numbers head on. Lean into your weakness instead of avoiding it. Stop hoping your profit will just show up without putting in the work. 

2. Goals should not be set from vanity metrics. 

My first Ironman event had some challenges, but the bike wasn’t one of them. I had an awesome bike time and when I signed up for my second Ironman event in Alaska, I figured I would clock an even better bike time. However, I set that time goal off of a vanity metric instead of the reality of the course. Needless to say, I was about a fourth of the way through the Alaska course when I realized my vanity goal was way far removed from reality. 

As business owners we look around at what we “think” everyone else is making or doing and set our business goals from perceived reality instead of from a goal based on profitability. Desiring to be a seven-figure business, or create a scalable offer, just because that’s what we see online and hear on social can end up giving us a rude awakening when we realize that all that hustle just produces sales (work) and no profit (reward).

3. Although you should put the right people on the team, you oversee finishing the race. 

The first thing I did after paying the race entry for my first Ironman was to hire a triathlon coach and a dietician. I had no idea how to prepare for an Ironman and I had absolutely no idea how to fuel for such an event. No need in googling ideas and piecing together a plan, I wanted to skip to the front of the line and have the professionals tell me what to do. I put together the right team. However it was still my responsibility to do the work, show up and race. 

The same thinking follows in our businesses. We need to hire a bookkeeper and a Profit Strategist so we can get accurate financials, but then you must discover how to use the financial information to make good financial decisions for your business. At the end of the day, we are in charge of our finances. You cannot hand over your responsibility to finish your business “race”! 

Whether you are pursuing an athletic achievement or are contending for profit in your business, pursue goals driven by profit, building business strength and taking charge of your outcomes.

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Weekly bite-sized advice from Ciara Stockeland.