Running Shoes are like a Business - They have to be the Right Fit

Posted by martin.parnell |

Being known as someone who does a lot of running, I am occasionally asked to review running shoes, before they hit the stores. Such was the case, last week. The editor of a Calgary-based fitness magazine sent me a pair of shoes, asked me to try them out and write a review. 

After I had given them a good workout and was making notes about what I would write about them, it struck me that the points I look at, when writing a review of running shoes, could also apply to what one might consider, when setting up a business: 

  1. Are they the right size?   - I am a size 11 neutral. 

Deciding on the size to which you wish to grow your business may seem a no brainer. Doesn’t everyone want their business to grow as large as possible? Isn’t that a sign of success? Well, that may certainly be your goal, but it’s not necessarily right for everyone. The size of your business could influence many things. Ask yourself: Do you want to have the responsibility of a large premises, bigger staff/ workforce. Do you want to have to deal with the demands of a great range of customers? Maybe you would prefer to have a smaller operation, work for yourself, work from home or not want to have to deal with a number of staff. 

  1. Are they comfortable?  - When I first hold the shoes, I feel inside for ridges or rough spots in the stitching. Then I put them on and see if they are wide enough in the toe box and make sure the laces are not rubbing. 

When you are setting up a business, you need to feel comfortable in what you are offering. Do you have the right skills to cover all aspects of the business? If not, do you have the right staff to provide those skills? Do you know enough about the way to run a successful business? Have you set achievable goals? Have you secured enough funding to see you through the initial set-up period? 

  1. Is there enough support?  - Once the shoes are on my feet, I look for a certain amount of cushioning in the shoe, they need to be not too sloppy, but not too tight. What I call the Cinderella effect! 

When establishing a business, it’s a good idea to put some support mechanisms in place. These can be in various forms. For example, look at businesses similar to yours. Are they flourishing or failing and why?  Do you have a good team to cover marketing and promotion, who can deal with social media? Do you have all the equipment you need and someone to service it, if it fails? Do you have someone to help with technology, keeping it relevant and of value? Is your website current and informative? There are numerous websites that give constructive advice on setting up a business. Also, look for local business groups and attend their meetings. 

  1. Are there hot spots? - When running in new shoes, I’m always aware of any hot spots that may occur, places on the shoes that cause irritation or discomfort. 

When starting a business, it’s not always easy to foresee problems, but it’s a good idea to consider what could go wrong. One idea to help you with this is to talk to people, let them share their experiences. Ask about issues that may have arisen when they first started in business. Do they have any advice to give? Be prepared. If I have an issues with the shoes, I either pause or deal with it (maybe my socks have wrinkled or a lace has come untied) or stop altogether (nobody wants a blister form new shoes!). I’m not suggesting you give up on your idea for a business, but you may want to rethink your approach and take more time before launching yourself in to the business world. 

  1. Do they feel right? - The shoes have not only to fit well, but they have to feel right. They have to give me confidence when I’m running, put a spring in my step, not feel like a dead weight, and be right for my running gait. 

When a client considers using your business, they may be looking for a range of requirements. You have to be able to reassure them that you are “the right fit” for them. If that’s not the case, be honest. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, as that will be your downfall. Have confidence in what you have to offer. Be well prepared to deal with their enquiries. If you don’t know the answer to something, make sure you find out and get back to them straight away. Make them fully aware that you are prepared to work hard for them and have a professional approach. 

All of the above apply, not only when I’m reviewing a new make of running shoe, but also if I’m in a store buying a pair. At these times, there are two other aspects I consider. 

Price – For me, the comfort and support I get from a pair of running shoes is of utmost importance, but I also have to consider value for money. There are some pretty pricey shoes out there, but they’re not necessarily the ones for me. 

Don’t overprice the product or service you have to offer. Be prepared to be flexible if a client has budget restrictions, maybe you could offer them a repayment option or offer a consultation rather than the whole service. At the same time, don’t sell yourself short. If you value your worth, others will, too. 

Looks – What the shoes look like isn’t of great importance to me, but there’s no doubt that, when I initially approach those rows of shoes, in the sports shop, some have greater appeal than others.

Obviously you want to make your business appeal to new clients. Make sure your product or service is packaged in a way that makes it stand out. This is where social media and your website can boost your business. Ask satisfied customers to post a review. Keep current and use tools to advertise your business that provide clear, precise information on what you have to offer. 

Whether I’m out for a 10km training run or racing in the Boston Marathon, the shoes have to be right. 

It’s not the size of your business that matters, so long as it’s the right fit for the clients you wish to attract and the level of growth and success you wish to achieve.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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