I was around 10 years old when I got my first snowboard. I’ve since snowboarded every season for 9 years.
In those 9 years I’ve learned a lot about myself personally and as an entrepreneur.
I grew up on the mountain, going every weekend I could and skipping school on the occasion just to go ride. The feeling, as any snowboarder will tell you, is like no other. The wind stinging your face, freezing your lips and ice covering your goggles; your hands go numb and your legs get sore yet you can’t stop smiling.
There’s nothing better than being high up enough to see across state lines then being at the base looking up at the Goliath you just conquered.
When I started snowboarding, I had no clue how much I would end up loving it. I felt foolish falling all the time and not being able to make proper turns. Back then, I didn’t know much about myself. In particular, I had no clue I had a knack for business and entrepreneurship.
Now-a-days I know what I love, and I pursue those things endlessly. It’s funny though, how much two unrelated passions can mix. Thanks to snowboarding, I’ve already learned great lessons for entrepreneurship, lessons that help me sit and work every day towards a lifestyle filled with passions.
I’d like to share with you the top 5 lessons snowboarding has taught me, and how they apply to entrepreneurship.
1.) You’re going to fall.
Learning how to snowboard can kind of suck. Don’t get me wrong, it really is fun to learn and progress, but the constant aches and pains in every region of your body can get old.
I tell people, “Every person learning to snowboard has one big fall, and that will decide whether or not they are a snowboarder.” Turns out, entrepreneurship is not so different in this regard.
Look at any list of characteristics an entrepreneur needs, I can almost guarantee you a majority of them will say something about being willing to fail, and it’s totally right. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be willing to fall sometimes, no matter how experienced you are.
When you do fail, it’s what you do after that’s important and if you’re like so many snowboarders who stuck it out, you’ll stand up, brush off the snow and get back to work.
2.) You need to take more risks.
For a long time, I wanted to snowboard in the terrain park, but I always said I didn’t know how. I would try to hit little hops but would always be going too slow or swerve away because I was too afraid.
It wasn’t until I swallowed my fear, and looked it in the face that I began to progress as a park rider. It was when I decided to take risks that I was able to develop my riding in terrain parks.
In entrepreneurship, risk-taking is just part of the game. Nobody started a company on an idea that was 100% sure to win. Every single company that is around today has a story that involves risk. Maybe it was scraping by on a budget that simply wasn’t enough, or it was challenging the status quo in search of the next big thing.
Taking risks, and being wise about which risks to take is huge in entrepreneurship, and it is the only way you can hope to progress.
3.) You don’t know if you can do it until you try.
I grew up riding with guys who were grades above me, this also meant they had a few more seasons under their belt. I watched these riders do all kinds of flips, twists, grabs, and rolls. When I asked them how they did it, I always got an answer along the lines of, “You just have to do it.”
This answer frustrated me, but since I’ve figured out what they meant. You will never know if you can do something until you finally do it, until you finally get that flip and stomp the landing too.
Do you know if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? I didn’t when I started. It’s lots of work and long nights that nobody tells you about. Media likes to make it seem like it’s a rocket to success but realistically success comes years after you start.
It’s because of our view of entrepreneurship that it’s hard to imagine what’s ahead of you, you’ll only really know if you can handle it once you get going. That’s why when someone asks if I think they can be an entrepreneur, I look them in the eye and tell them, “You just have to do it if you really wanna know.”
4.) You’ve got to challenge yourself.
So you can snowboard all day and not fall, great, but does that mean you’re getting better? I love snowboarding for fun, but I also love getting better at it and trying new things.
Even when you’re learning, there are certain plateaus you’ll hit, the only way to overcome plateaus is to take that step to the next level. For me taking that step means setting goals for the day, maybe it’s a record run or a certain number of park features. Whatever it is, you’ve got to challenge yourself.
Entrepreneurship is just the same. One of my favorite pieces of advice was to look at my year plan and ask, “Why can’t I do this in 6 months?” It’s a challenge to yourself. It’s a challenge that makes you more productive because you want to reach the next level in your quest.
Even setting out to be an entrepreneur in itself is challenging yourself. You’ve got to be willing to take on this challenge and set new ones for yourself, otherwise you will plateau, and never improve.
5.) There’s no feeling like looking back and seeing what you’ve accomplished.
Every run is an experience all it’s own, and no two will ever be exactly the same. Maybe it’s different trails or maybe you went fast instead of taking it easy. Whatever the difference may be, the feeling when you hit the end of the trails is always the same.
You stand up, you turn around and you see the thousands of feet you just sailed down. While you may be at the bottom of the mountain, that feeling as you come off the trail makes you feel like you’re on the top of the world.
The same thing goes for entrepreneurship. No two people or businesses have the same story. Yet, when you ask an entrepreneur who has finally accomplished their goal for the past several years the reaction is almost all of the same. You can look back on your work, and truly be proud of what you accomplished.
I can happily say that snowboarding has made me a better entrepreneur. It’s a sport I love and it’s a sport that has taught me a lot about myself and my other passions. It’s why even though I work five days a week at a full-time job, I’ll always find time for snowboarding, just like I’ll always find time for entrepreneurship.