In many ways getting an online business off the ground and to the point where it is creating a significant sustainable income is like doing a 100km walk. I came to this conclusion when competing in the Oxfam Trailwalker in Sydney last week. You have a lot of time to think when you walk 100km.
The Oxfam Trailwalker is an event where a team of four walks together to complete 100km over a 48 hour period. There are 8 checkpoints along the way and each team must enter and leave the checkpoint as a team of 4. At each checkpoint you are met by a support crew who can give you food, refill camel packs, change clothes and attend to injuries.
I was invited to join with a team of 3 other friends and colleagues and thought it sounded like a good challenge at the time. The reality of continuously walking 100km is quite different!
In the lead up to the event we met every couple of weeks to plan the event, what we would need to bring, who we would need to support us, what training we needed to do and how long we thought it would take us.
Three weeks before the event, we walked the second half of the course, and I'm glad we did. There was 2100m of incline and 2300m of decline, and it was a real wake up call to what we were going to be up for on the day.
Our team left Middle Head in Sydney at 7am on Friday 25th August and start walking towards the first of 9 checkpoints with a goal of 27 hours. It had been raining consistently for the last week in Sydney so the tracks were pretty muddy and at times required us to take off shoes to cross creeks. You couldn't get from one checkpoint to the next without getting your shoes wet, so we had to change socks at every checkpoint.
The toughest part of the course was coming into check point 7 (72km down, 28km to go) at 3.30am. We had walked 4 hours for the 13.5kms from checkpoint 6 in the dark with headlights on. There was a lot of mist, which made visibility very poor and the track was very rough. We had been walking for over 20 hours and fatigue was setting is, so there was a lot of slipping and tripping and we knew the hardest parts of the course were still to come. It was a mind game at this stage to keep going. Almost 600 of the 2000 competitors pulled out of trailwalker throughout the event and over 200 pulled out at checkpoint 7.
After an extended stop at checkpoint 7 of eating drinking and getting physio, our spirits were strong again as it started to get light and we set off to finish the 100kms.
We came into the finish line at 2.10pm on Saturday, 31 hours after we had started. We were tired, sore and had blistered feet, but were filled with an immense sense of accomplishment and success as we crossed the finish line at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury.
So how is it like succeeding in an online business?
- The concept of it sounds really good, but the reality of doing it much harder than you could ever imagine.
- You have to do a lot of planning, training and preparation before you even start.
- Whilst you know the general path you are going to take, there are external conditions that you can't control that can make your journey a lot harder.
- It's much easier to do it as a team than go it alone.
- There are lots of ups and downs.
- You need a support crew to help you along the path that can raise your spirits, revitalise you and keep you on track.
- There are some very dark times on the path when you wonder why you got into it in the first place and you don't know how you are going to keep going.
- People are always dropping out. The majority of the people drop out when they have done all the hard work and they are only a short way from the finish line. If they had just have persisted that little bit longer, they would have gotten all the rewards.
- It almost always takes you longer than you thought it would.
- When you make it to the finish line there is an immense sense of accomplishment, gratitude and celebration
- If you get to the start line you are in a minority of the population, if you get to the finish line, you are in an elite group of people.