How Rappelling is Like Running Your Own Business

My first rappel down a waterfall...scary, but amazing!

A few weeks ago I spent a week in Costa Rica where I saw incredible plants and wildlife, and took part in more extreme sports (at least they were extreme to me) than I ever have in my entire life. First I sailed across a zip line through the rainforest, then I jet skied across the ocean (note: choppy ocean) and then I went canyoning (in this case, rappelling down four waterfalls and one rock wall) in the rainforest.

Thinking back to my trip made me realize how running a home-based business is like rappelling down a waterfall.

  • You’re out of your comfort zone. Just as it’s unnatural to hang onto a rope, push yourself away from the wall and plunge many feet below, starting a new business is unnatural. The way I felt rappelling down the first waterfall seemed as overwhelming as starting my first home-based business. Now that I’m on my third business, starting a new business feels more comfortable.
  • You have to trust the experts. I had to trust that our guides at the top of the waterfall had attached the rope to me before they gave me a thumbs up to jump. When you’re running a home-based business, you have to trust that your CPA, attorney, marketing person, Webmaster and anyone else you hire to help you run your business, knows what they’re doing.
  • You need to take risks. As I looked over the first waterfall, I questioned whether the risk of jumping off the wall backwards was worth the benefit. (Also, I kept asking myself what in the hell I was doing!) When you’re running your own business, you may think the same thing. If you don’t go out on a limb and start the business you’ve always dreamed of owning, you’ll never know whether or not you could have succeeded. Risks aren’t always worth the benefit, but then again, many times they are.
  • It’s important to take time to look around you and celebrate your successes. During the first descent, all I could think about was not slamming into the wall. By the last rappel, I looked around and noticed how cool the rocks and water gushing over the side looked. When my feet touched the ground, I was proud of myself for mastering (or at least trying to master) all five rappels. When you own your own business, it’s easy to focus on what’s not working and forgetting to celebrate your successes. They’re there. You just have to look for them.

The extreme sports I experienced while I was in Costa Rica pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve challenged myself to take what I learned from those adventures and apply them to my own business.  After all, nothing in business will ever be as scary as possibly falling off a jet ski in the ocean. Did I mention that Jaws is one of my least favorite movies?

What have you done lately to get out of your business comfort zone?


  1. This is a great piece and so true. I think most important of all is the last point you made:Take time to celebrate your successes. I know as a small business owner it is easy to spend so much time worrying about balancing the business you have with business development, trying to always do beyond the best for your clients, etc but isn’t easy to remember to pat your self on the back on occasion for what you do accomplish. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Awesome stuff Lisa! I imagine the trip was something else, really enjoyable.

    I luv the parallel because it rings true. You continually move out of your comfort zone running a business. Few are born with the entrepreneur’s mindset so much of what you do will be entirely new. On the other side of this discomfort? Your dreams! That’s what keeps me motivated.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..3 Letters which Grow Your Home Based Business SwiftlyMy Profile

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