5 Ways Doing The Grouse Grind 10 Times In a Day And Entrepreneurship Are The Same

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The Fall is a great time to reflect on your goals as we roll into the academic year-start and grind out the last months of 2017. As summer ends, I reflect back on its highest moments in order to inspire how I set new goals and challenges for myself for the remainder of the year. For those searching for an extra push to take on a new challenge, I figured no better way than to write about how my summer triumph could potentially influence your next decision: to become an entrepreneur by the end of 2017.

As CEO and Co-Founder of a local restaurant marketing company, I experience the “grind” on a regular basis — the same emotions, feelings, and thoughts and I have when I do the Grouse Grind — a grueling hike, known as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” up 2,830 steps to the top of Grouse Mountain.

I am a regular, all-season Grouse Grinder — whether it's hot, snowy, or packed, I am up for a challenge — in the same way, I am up for a business challenge all-year long. On June 20th, 2017, I participated in the BC Children’s Hospital GrindForKids Multi-Grind fundraiser where participants climb Grouse Mountain as many times as they can during an 18-hour period.

Funny enough, I am very familiar with 18-hour days.

My goal was to do ten climbs (the equivalent of one Mount Everest) within those 18 hours and document how each lap represented a different stage in the entrepreneurial sphere.

Here are five lessons I learned while participating in the Multi-Grind fundraiser that are directly relatable to the first year of starting your own business.

1.  You are in the dark when you start – Laps 1-2

It was a dark start as just over 70 people lined up with headlamps at the base of Grouse Mountain at 4 a.m. The only way to see the trail and calm your nerves is to stick with the pack and let them shine a light for you. Like when starting a company, you’re going to think you’re a bit crazy for doing it, and the initial uncertainty and risks make it tough to start. You need to follow the light of people in a similar grind to see more clearly as you gain insight and share the risks with co-founders, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs.

2. Once you’re in it, it becomes a routine – Laps 3-5

After the first grind, it got light quickly, and by the second and third grind, I was surprised with my ability to push through the pain and start to get in a flow. By the halfway point I was joined by my best friends who kept me company and well nourished. In a startup, the journey gets a lot clearer and things start to happen quickly after you decide to dive in. You start to build confidence as you start gaining real customers to interact with your product, your value proposition becomes clearer, and people start to want to be part of your journey - you can smell success.

3. The Breakthrough – Lap 6

As I passed the halfway point, I had my mental and physical breakthrough. I felt confident as ever that I would reach my goal, and with the amount of encouragement I was getting from my friends and complete strangers, the climb switched from painful to enjoyable. In the startup world, you’re bound to get your first PR piece or investor on board and there is nothing more validating than that! This gets you into the habit of going faster and focusing only on milestones that top this.

4. Hubris leads to humility – Laps 7-9

Lap seven was my fastest one yet and if I had made it this far, I didn’t see myself slowing down. I neglected to rest on my next lap and didn’t think I needed to refuel with more food - this was a big mistake. Lap 8 felt like I sprinted into a concrete wall and time suddenly stood still as my legs burned every single step of the way. What made it worse was that I had to do it alone as my entourage left when it was convenient for them - startups are no different. Sobering up from the startup high usually happens when you lose your first big customer, lose a teammate, or run out of money - all have happened to me. These startup catastrophes are usually preventable when you don’t let shiny milestones distract you from the crucial small everyday details of customer service, team morale, and budgeting.

5. The Final Push - Lap 10

By the final lap, I was focused and conscious of every single factor that was going to keep me going: my pace, food levels, breathing, the people around me, and my immediate next step. This new level of cautious and quiet confidence took all day to form but when I finally got it, no one was taking that away from me. My favourite part was seeing the people who joined me to break new frontiers as many did their first-ever multi-grinds just to keep me company - it was contagious! In the last 200 meters, I decided to pull up Facebook Live and share my experience with the many people who supported me throughout the years to endure challenges like this one - it was a moment of connection between the world and myself that I’ll never forget.  

Startups don’t come without their challenges and making it past the first year is a major milestone in itself. As the years pass by, you will have the good fortune to see your challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned to calibrate in the last month of your year to set you up for a new year and an even steeper mountain to conquer.

Concluding Thoughts

By the way, I am a regular grouse grinder today, but if you asked me a year ago if I could ever complete this challenge, I’m not sure what I would answer. I didn’t always know I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I didn't always know (or imagine) I could do this climb ten times either. My ten laps got me to 14th place out of 70 participants, which was more than I could have imagined for the day. Think about how far you can go next time you’re thinking about starting your own business and just remember that although it might seem crazy now, in a year you might be thinking about how crazy it would have been if you didn’t take the plunge.

Paul Davidescu