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I recently hiked the 96 mile Maah Daah Hey trail with my mom and brother.  It was one of the most physically challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done.  As I was hiking, I couldn’t help but notice how analogous this backpacking trip was to building a startup.

The trip was NOT easy.  I got terrible blisters from my boots the first day and hiked the remaining 80 miles in Crocs.  We hiked nearly 15 hours per day, were constantly pulling off ticks from our clothes and skin, and I almost backed into a five foot long coiled rattle snake.

In a startup, shit happens.  Sometimes you have to wear different shoes.  You have to work long hours, get rid of ticks, and avoid rattle snakes that could poison your company.

Knowing that you have to hike 96 miles while you are hiking, is an extremely daunting thought.  I didn’t train whatsoever for this hike and quite honestly probably shouldn’t have been out there.  There were mileposts (like the one above) that counted every single mile of the Maah Daah Hey trail.  When I think back, these mileposts were the reason I made it through the hike.  Each milepost gave you a little nudge of momentum.  They allowed you to change your perception of the trip from, “holy shit I have to hike 96 miles!?”, to “okay, I just have to get to the next milepost”.  Some miles were harder than others, but it went on like this, one milepost at a time for 96 miles until the hike was finished.

Putting mileposts into your startup process is crucial.  The amount you have to accomplish and the complex problems you have to solve, are also often extremely daunting.  I think we do a pretty good job of putting mileposts into our process at GoChime.  We break our tasks into weekly “sprints”.  These sprints are our mileposts.  Each week we prioritize (or re-prioritize) what needs to be done, then break that into smaller pieces that can be accomplished in a week.  Some sprints are harder than others, but each sprint we complete gives us another nudge of momentum and pushes us forward.  I have no idea how many mileposts we will hit before we are content with GoChime’s success (a lot more than 96!), but we intend to keep pushing forward, one milepost at a time, until we get there.

  • http://www.about.me/tgowland Tara Gowland

    Love this post – really speaks to what being an entrepreneur is about..