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The Best Lessons Bodysurfing Taught Me About Running a Start-Up

3 min read 0 Comments

The lessons we learn

I have always credited being an athlete (and good parenting - thanks mom and dad) to molding me into being the determined and driven, entrepreneurial woman I am today.  Being an athlete as a little girl, gave me courage to take risks, believe in myself, and to go after what I want.  Bodysurfing specifically taught me some of the most valuable lessons that I often to refer to while running a start-up business.   To be a good bodysurfer you need to have a good understanding of the ocean, reading the waves, figuring out where you should be positioned to catch the wave, etc.  On top of that, the ocean is always changing and unpredictable - much like any business.  Like bodysurfing,starting your own business involves an adrenaline rush, high risk, and the occasional flop.  Here are the best lessons to you can learn from bodysurfing when starting your own business.

  • Preparation: It is the preparation before you enter the ocean or start your new business that will play a big part in determining how successful you are.  You need to have all the right gear to get you the best barrell you possibly can get - wetsuit, fins, and handboard quiver.   And that goes the same for any business.  Make sure to have a detailed business plan and include what tools you need in order to succeed.  If you are not good with financials, find someone who is and have them help  you.  You can have the best idea or product in the world, but if you don’t have a solid plan to execute you will fail..  
  • Risk Assessment:  are there ripcurrents?  Set waves and high surf?  Rocks or submerged objects?  The ocean is very dangerous and can kill you. Never underestimate it! In addition, if you do not have fins or a handboard, you are much more susceptible to currents and backwash than if you are on a surfboard because you are essentially swimming and do not have the board to keep you buoyant.  

As an entrepreneur you need to follow a similar risk assessment.  Are there competitors in the market?  What differentiates you from your competitors?  Can someone come in and take over the market?  If you have a good idea or product, someone will try to steal it, copy it, mimic it.  Always stay ahead of the curb and protect yourself with trademarks, patent, and exclusive contracts with your manufacturers.

  • Go For It:  Once you have chosen your wave and are committed to catching it, go for it and do not back down! To put anything other than everything into catching that wave will only cause injury. You have to be 100% committed to catching the wave.   As for your business, you need to commit 110%.  It is not easy to start a company, or everyone would do it.  It’s hard.  There are times when you want to give up, you will have irate customers, and bills you don’t know how your going to pay.  Almost every small business owner feels that pain.  Just keep being positive and charge forward.
  • BREATHE and relax!  This was one of the biggest obstacles I have had to overcome, both in bodysurfing and business.  Once I started getting in bigger surf that scared me a tiny bit, I immediately tensed up and felt like I couldn’t breathe.  My boyfriend got me to calm down, relax and focus on my breathing.  I mean, you are in the ocean, it would probably a good idea if you could hold your breath for more than a couple seconds before you decide you are going to Slyde down the face of a 6-foot wave.  I have to remind myself to do the same thing when I feel like I am in over my head at work.  You are not going to know everything, so instead of depriving yourself of oxygen, ask for help.  There are plenty of resources out there for small businesses and startups.  I have found that for the most part, people want to help small businesses, just don’t be afraid to ask.

Final Thoughts: The more you are out there (ocean and business), the more instinctual and knowledgeable you will become.  Just remember to have fun while you are doing it!



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