Growing Your Side-Hustle is a Marathon, Not a Sprint. Here's Why

A few years ago after a breakup I decided I’d sign up for a half marathon. That’s the kind of thing you do when you go through a break up isn’t it? I chopped my hair off really short and signed up for this half marathon. I did make it to the end, barely but I made it, and i’ve not been running since. Well, apart from the odd job which I describe as ‘interval training’ because there are a few walking breaks dotted throughout my run.

Watching the London marathon today and seeing all of those runners battle their way to the end of a gruelling 26.2 mile run not only brought back feelings of dread but also got me thinking about the similarities between running a marathon and growing a creative business. In particular growing a creative business as a side-hustle.

Growing your creative business as a side-hustle is a marathon, not a sprint, here's why | Josephine Brooks

There are so many mindset blocks to work through, you’ve got to pace yourself so you don’t burn out, you need support from your cheerleaders and sometimes all you need is for someone to hand you a jelly baby or three.

The similarities between building a business as a side-hustle and running amaranthine are endless

One thing growing a business is not, is a sprint. In fact, those times that I’ve tried to grow my business as if it were a spring i’ve ended up anxious and burned out. So, what can we learn from these marathon runners that we can apply to our businesses without having to actually run the marathon ourselves?

There will be peaks and troughs

Growing your own business is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you're up, the next you're down, it's staying the course that counts.

You need cheerleaders, who give you jelly babies

Literally and metaphorically speaking with the jelly babies, of course. I'd say it's almost impossible to build a creative business without the support of others. Whether that's friends, family your partner or other side-hustlers. If you have a feeing that there might be a few holes, I wrote a post with some practical steps to creating a support network for you and your side-hustle that I hope will get you started with putting that vital piece of the puzzle in place.

You need to pace yourself

This is a biggie because burn out is a real pain in the arse! It's important that you don't go all guns blazing into your business because that's a one way ticket to burnout. The thing that really builds a business is consistency, so plan your time realistically and don't expect yourself to be going at 100 miles an hour all of the time. Small steps add up to a big result over time. 

Hovis Hill, Gold Hill Shaftesbury on a winter morning

You need to look back at how far you've come

When you're stuck in the day to day of your business it can feel like you're going no where, but if you're keeping track of your creative business monthly, you can look back and see just how much you've achieved over the last few months. A feeling that's guaranteed to give you a boost.

Don't play that comparison game

When you look around it can be easy to think that some people are running faster than you. Just remember that the race you're running is your race. Keep your head down and concentrate on your own goals and stay in your own lane.

It's great to feel inspired by others but don't let what other people are doing get you down.  Equally, if it's your first 'marathon' don't compare yourself to the Mo Farah of your sector and remember that they started somewhere too.

Self-care

It's really important to reward yourself when you've hit a milestone and give yourself some time off between projects, or should we call them marathons?

My key message here is to pace yourself and enjoy the process of growing your business. You never get to a point where you feel like everything's perfect and you don't want to tweak a thing, so make sure you're enjoying the ride, because when you’re enjoying the process, you’re doing what you love.


This post appeared first in one of my Side-Hustle Letters which I send out every fortnight packed with my seasonal musings, exercises and prompts to help you level up your side-hustle and links to resources I’ve recently enjoyed. If you’d like to join my mailing list, just sign up below. 

Growing a creative business is a marathon, not a sprint | Josephine Brooks