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Starting a Business is like Training for a Triathlon

Starting a Business How is starting a company like training for a triathlon? Sam Inkinen, founder and president of Trulia and a top ranked amateur triathlete shares his knowledge. Eight years ago when Sam Inkinen first moved to the United States, he had no bicycle, wetsuit, nor knowledge about the real estate industry. He has come a long way since then. Today he is the founder and president of Trulia, the fastest growing online real estate company in the world, and a triathlete ranked second in the world among amateurs in his age group. Inkinen discusses four ways that building a successful online company is like training for a triathlon.

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1. Track everything When training intensively for a triathlon you track everything. Track the obvious like workout distance and time as well as the not so obvious like sleep quality and heart rate. Similarly, in a business you must track everything. At Trulia, Inkinen tracks everything from customer satisfaction, page views, and revenue per product line to more granular things like page load time, exit rate for different pages, and completeness score for site content. Inkinen recommends using key performance indicators (KPIs) to simply see what works and what doesn’t so you know what to maintain and what to improve.

2. Always Plan You can get a lot more done in less time if you have a plan; this applies to business and athletics. Inkinen explains, “Whenever I mention how many hours a week I train to other athletes, they’re always surprised at how little time I put into it–and that’s mostly because of good planning.” Once a week he spends time planning his workouts as well as his business meetings. Along with weekly plans, he of course also has quarterly and annual plans.

3. Maintain a Growth Mindset Whether you win or place second, third, or fourth in a triathlon, there is always room for improvement – you are never ‘done’ improving. The same goes with business. Whether you beat your competition or even capture the majority of the market share, there is always room to improve. It is important to find the things that you and your business need to improve on and make a plan to turn those improvements into a reality. Trulia has such a strong growth mindset that they are “growing 80-100% every year” and still continue to ask themselves, what can we improve? You are never ‘done’ growing when you apply the growth mindset because growth is about continual improvement.

4. Enjoy the Process, Not Just the Outcome Simply put, enjoy the journey not just the end result. Do something you enjoy, do it with passion, and do it with a smile. As Inkinen says, “While I’m driven to win–big time–in both sports and in building the company, I would do the same thing every day with a smile on my face whether the final outcome is a total failure or a huge success… It’s the journey that’s the most exciting.” Learn more about starting a business in our business administration program at Fremont College and start your journey today.

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