Success is one of your top priorities as an entrepreneur and business owner. And for a good reason – you work too hard on your business or franchise to just watch it fail. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happens to so many new businesses. Follow these tips by applying the “20 Mile March” to your business framework. 

Today, 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years of opening, while 45% go under within the first five years. The reasons for these failures are many: from business plan problems to poor facility locations or insufficient marketing. 

Fortunately, you can avoid those pitfalls by understanding what it takes to ensure long-term business success and getting familiar with the concept of the “20-mile march.”

Here’s what you need to know. 

First Things First – What is the “20-Mile March?”

No, we’re not recommending that you go out and march 20 miles!

Since we are a bunch of fitness junkies, though, we’ll forgive you for assuming. Instead, the “20-mile march” is a concept author and business consultant Jim Collins came up with in his book Great by Choice

Here’s a quick breakdown:

In his book, Collins uses the “20-mile march” as an analogy to describe the different strategies of two different explorers: Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, both of whom were on a mission to be the first to lead teams to the South Pole in October of 1911. 

While Amundsen’s team made it to the destination on time as they planned, Scott’s team ran into various obstacles and lost many of their men to death along the way.

What caused their different fates?  While Amundsen’s team had prepared precisely and intentionally for the trip and approached the journey at a steady pace of about 20 miles daily, the Scott team pushed themselves too hard – often traveling 40 miles per day and reaching camp exhausted and exhausted and under-prepared.

Using that analogy, Collins argues that the “20-mile march” is more than a philosophy. Instead, it’s a framework that business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives can use to generate long-term success.

Key Framework For The “20-Mile March” 

  • Use clear performance indicators.
  • Company applies self-imposed pacing and constraints.
  • Compare performance to your appropriate industry.
  • Keep the focus within your company’s ability to pursue and achieve goals. 
  • Select an appropriate time frame – the timeframe must provide enough time to manage the goal, yet be short enough to encourage achievement.
  • Company or team controls framework internally rather than by external forces.
  • Maintain a high level of consistency.

To adhere to the “20-mile march” framework, entrepreneurs must focus on consistently hitting their specified performance markers over a long time horizon. This requires leaning into discomfort, being willing to get creative, and avoiding the urge to overextend oneself just to get there faster.

In the next section, we’ll elaborate on each of those points and discuss some other tips every entrepreneur needs to ensure long-term success for their business.

5 Entrepreneurship Habits That Ensure Long-Term Success

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or a skilled business owner looking for ways to level up, these tips will help you become more successful and build a lasting business:

1. Resiliency: Keep Striving, Even After Setbacks

During their journey to the South Pole, the Amundsen and Scott teams faced numerous setbacks. One team kept striving toward the goal slowly and consistently, however, while the other over-compensated and made rash decisions. 

As an entrepreneur, adopting a resilient mindset is critical: setbacks will happen. What sets you apart from other teams is how you respond to and recover from them.

2. Focus On Growth Mindset 

No matter how skilled you are as an entrepreneur or business owner, you will make mistakes. When you do, it’s smart to focus on the lessons you learned from the experience, not the excuses about why it wasn’t your fault. 

When you do this, you inhabit a growth mindset, which allows you to scale, grow, and maintain the agility you need to be competitive.

3. Differentiate With Long-Term Solutions

There’s a big difference between entrepreneurs with businesses that are successful in the long-term and those who boom-and-bust: the lasting entrepreneurs focus on innovative, long-term solutions that serve large and growing markets. 

While niche solutions may seem flashy, they’re much more challenging to maintain in the long run. 

4. Invest In Relationships

It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on business growth. What that misses, however, is that you need to develop win-win relationships with your peers and partners to survive. 

If you focus only on your company’s bottom line or KPIs, you’ll miss the opportunity to develop long-standing relationships with people that will help you go far together. 

5. Put In The Hard Work

There’s a saying that entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. While it usually gets a strained laugh or two, it’s true! 

Entrepreneurs do what they do because they want the freedom to design their own lifestyles and create routines they enjoy. 

Doing this successfully, however, requires lots of hard work, grit, determination, and the willingness to work harder and longer than people who aren’t running their own businesses. 

Master the 20-Mile March To Grow a Successful and Long-Lasting Business

When we’re working toward a goal (building a successful business, in this case), it’s easy to get overexcited. When we get overexcited, it’s easy to throw all of your t available resources and energy into the process, just like Scott’s team did on the way to the South Pole. 


the smarter and more sustainable approach is to allocate our resources wisely, set goals and stick to them, and work intentionally and consistently toward the things we want. That’s where the concept of the “20-mile march” comes in.

When we master restraint, intentionality, and forethought in our businesses, we can create innovative, long-lasting enterprises that truly help people and make a positive mark on society and the world. 

Article by Rick Mayo, Alloy CEO and Founder

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