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Why Startups Are Like Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is Intense

It's a 12-mile course that forces "mudders" to face their fears -- of heights, suffocation, abandonment, and more -- by overcoming twenty or more obstacles.

Consider the "Funky Monkey," a set of monkey bars (greased up with butter and mud) hanging over a pit of cold water. Perhaps "Electroshock Therapy," where live wires dangle above a pit of (surprise!) mud is more your style.

We humbly suggest that Tough Mudder isn't the way ordinary people spend a summer day.

Yet ChargeOver's co-founder, Keith Palmer Jr., is a four-time veteran mudder. Next summer he'll complete two Tough Mudders.

He thinks it's not a big deal.

The ChargeOver workspaces are "monkey bar-free" (so far, anyway), but overcoming obstacles is something we do as startup founders and team members every day.

Surviving a Tough Mudder and surviving the reality of startups share the same skills sets, it seems. Here are the three most critical things.

Go the Distance

Once you start the Tough Mudder, you're committed to all twelve of those miles.

If you give up, the other mudders have also made a commitment to help you succeed. If the "Arctic Enema" seems like it will put you over the edge, the mudders keep moving you along.

Startup founders have customers to serve, team members to support, investor's expectations to meet, and their own entrepreneurial expectations to consider.

Keith Palmer Jr., ChargeOver Co-founder & Mudder

It can feel like you're alone on the startup journey. Try to relax your focus: we're rarely alone on the course.

As a founder or a startup team member, going the distance is the name of the game. Startup life is about setting goals, meeting them, and setting new ones.

Reaching goals takes time, and the process is littered with fails. As soon as you conquer one obstacle, three others appear in its wake.

Like Tough Mudder, for #startups it's not a matter of if you fall down. It's how many times you can get back up.

Part of winning in startups is just going the distance.

Don't Go it Alone

Go and go fast, but don't go alone. Some tough mudder obstacles can be tackled solo, but others are impossible to conquer without the assistance of a team.

That's purposeful design. It encourages mudders to work together throughout the experience. Tough Mudder's focus is on finishing -- not on finishing first.

Succeeding with your startup also depends on forming meaningful relationships with all kinds of partners. Making an effort to connect people in a productive way will help you and your firm grow a business.

Mudders are trained to never leave another behind. That's a good practice for startups, too. Whether it's a client, a peer, a team member, a vendor, an investor, or even a competitor, put some effort into helping others climb those greasy ladders.

What goes around still comes around, and the circles might as well start(up) with you.

Start by reaching out to us at ChargeOver or others in the startup community. We're all in this together.

Celebrate All of the Wins

At the end of the Tough Mudder (after 3 hours of trekking through the mud) mudders celebrate with a cold beer and some chow.

In startups, losses can hit hard and fast. It's the nature of the beast.

So when you do get a win, big or small, take the time to celebrate. If specific team members were involved, call out their contributions, too. Savor all the things that went right.  Do the analysis of the win, but do it after those beers.

Who helped you get over that wall?

#startup