Top 5 Lessons from Hiking that Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Leaving my stable job to start my own business was one of the most terrifying decisions I have made to date. I had been with my company for two years and had become comfortable with the routine of sitting behind a desk and doing whatever work came my way. But, something inside kept nagging at me—something that demanded a bigger sense of adventure. I tried to satisfy this voice with more weekend hikes and longer, exotic treks. But, I only found that adventure is a lot like eating chips—the more you have, the more you want. The thrill I sought in my spare time empowered me to seek more excitement out of my daytime. More importantly, the familiar adrenaline rush helped me on the path to self-employment.

Looking back, here are the top five ways hiking has made me a better entrepreneur.

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1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

The more prepared you are for a trek, the more enjoyable the experience usually is. The same is true for starting your own business. Being prepared to go out on your own and begin something new—between mental readiness to sources of funding, mentorship, and support—can make all the difference between starting an exciting, risky endeavor and doing a painful, solo slog through the unknown. Both adventures are better met with some prep work and precaution.

2. Let Unknown Places Inspire You

One of the best parts of hiking is finding yourself in places you’ve never imagined. Thankfully, that’s mirrored in the experience of starting your own business. After you have been trekking for a few days, nothing can replace the moment of stopping to look at the beauty of being somewhere you have never been. Entrepreneurship is peppered with these instances. Learning how to do your own accounting, reaching out to new clients, meeting new people, and taking on new projects all play a major part. Often, every step can feel somewhat unknown. Along the way, remember to stop and take a moment to enjoy all the new places and people you have met, and let them empower you to move forward.

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3. Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Hiking’s most basic skill is also the key to being a successful entrepreneur. Every hike is a series of deliberately taken steps. One step in front of the other, through sunshine and rain alike, makes up the journey to your destination. The same is true for any successful business endeavor. Business owners must continue to move forward, no matter the circumstance, to reach where he or she is now.

4. Be Flexible

Sometimes, our preparation pays off, and sometimes, it doesn’t. You first set out to hike a certain path, only to find that weather or damage requires you to pivot around and choose a different direction. While the journey isn’t over, it’s different from how you thought it would be. So, be flexible. Serendipity on and off the trail is a beautiful thing.

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5. Limitless Bounds

Nothing’s like the moment when you truly feel the immensity of your surroundings. You have been hiking for days, and suddenly, the expanse of forest, cliffs, or stars surrounds you. Added to this, you don’t know how far it reaches. Here, you can feel how large and beautiful the world is, and know that there are no limits to your exploration of it.

These moments of boundlessness usually make me commit to my next trek, no matter how much I might be covered in mud or dirt. A similar sensation leads many people to start their own businesses and explore those possibilities, rather than continuing to work for someone else. Especially when you think about turning back, let these moments inspire you to keep moving forward.

 

No one starts hiking and backpacking knowing exactly what they are doing. You often learn skills along the way, from a combination of your own experiences and talking with like-minded people. Being a business owner is no different, and like trekking, it gets even better when you find the comradery of the community. While a business owner’s path is far from clear and definite, the peaks along the journey are so rewarding that you won’t mind.