How running a marathon could help you succeed in ‘running’ your small business


Are you thinking of starting your own business? Maybe you should run a marathon first.

I’m Leonard Nagawidjaja, founder and director of AA Finance Solutions, and I completed my first marathon on the eight of October this year.

I spent six months preparing to run in the Perth Running Festival’s forty-two-kilometre marathon, finishing the race in about six hours.

During the experience of training for, and running, the marathon, I discovered a significant number of similarities between running a marathon and running a small business.


First of all, discipline and consistency are key in both.

The ability to run forty-two kilometres comes from daily training. You should be running five to ten kilometres four to five times a week, and the intensity should increase progressively depending upon your goal.

So you are either aiming for forty-two million dollars in sales, or to run forty-two kilometres. It’s the small things that you do day in and day out, with discipline and consistency, that will impact your end result.


Secondly, you need to avoid burning out.

Do you want to improve your ‘long run’? Run slow. I know it may sound contradictory; however, research shows that in order to increase your stamina for longer distance runs and your speed, your training should be run within your aerobic threshold, or your ‘easy run’, ninety-seven percent of the time. You are building the base for your long run and not for a sprint.

Through time, you will improve your threshold and be able to run further and faster. If you push your body too hard from day one, you risk burning out at the beginning and losing all your motivation.

Even on race day you should be running at your aerobic threshold, where you can keep running for the longest period of time, rather than trying to finish your full marathon in a sprint.

It’s exactly the same thing when it comes to running a business. If you are feeling burnt out all the time, you will not be able to metaphorically ‘run the distance’ and your business will not be sustainable for a long period of time. Create a system where you can help with the main work of the business and delegate jobs that are time consuming and have minimal impact on your profitability, such as cleaning.


The third lesson I have learnt from my experiences in both business and marathon running, is to know your people.

I now understand that the reason some people will say to your face that they think you can’t run a marathon, is because they have never completed one themselves. And the people encouraging you to do it are those who know how to do so or have completed one before. When training for a marathon, you need to surround yourself with successful, positive, people that you can learn from.

The same thing applies to running a business. You must spend time with like-minded people, be continuously learning, and never be afraid to ask questions.


In conclusion, running a marathon can teach you a lot about the strength and skills needed to create and sustain a successful small business. It’s not an easy experience, but neither is managing an enterprise, and both are challenges that are well worth the effort.

So what are you waiting for? Go grab your jogging shoes and hit the pavement. You could end up becoming a better runner, and even a better business owner.

For more quality financial advice and support, feel free to reach out to the friendly team at AA Finance Solutions.

Leonard Nagawidjaja at Optus Stadium following the marathon.

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