I am only passionate about a few things in life; two of those things are building my company and building strength. As an entrepreneur, the former is much more important to me; however, I believe the latter has inadvertently had a good influence on my abilities as an entrepreneur. And my hypercompetitive entrepreneurial mindset has contributed positively to my weight training, too.

This past December, I entered my first powerlifting meet. For those of you who don’t know what a powerlifting meet is, it’s a competition where individuals perform the bench press, squat, and deadlift and try to outlift other individuals in their weight class. After you perform all three lifts, you add up the maximum weight you successfully lifted for each lift to calculate your total. The individual with the highest total in their weight class wins their division.

I weighed in at 159 lbs (in the 165lb division) and had a total of 975 lbs. My goal going into the meet was a 1,000 lb total. Although I missed it, I was happy with my performance for my first go at it, and I know I’ll blow that number out of the water in my next meet.

Looking back at the journey to my first meet, I noticed many similarities between being an entrepreneur and competing and training for a powerlifting meet. In fact, several of the same fundamental abilities are necessary for success in both pursuits:

1. Embrace competition

Competition truly brings out the best in people. Without competition, we become complacent. Before I trained for my first powerlifting meet, I lifted weights completely for fun. Competing in powerlifting drove me to train and lift harder than I’ve ever done before. In business, you are always keeping an eye on your competition. Competition drives innovation. You do your best to provide a better product or service than your competitors. Whether you’re an athlete or an entrepreneur, you need to learn to embrace competition, because without it you would never reach your full potential.

2. Find a mentor

When starting your first business or training for your first powerlifting meet, it’s important to have an experienced mentor/coach. It’s always good to have someone who’s been there before have your back because they have already experienced any fears or doubts that you may have and know how to overcome them. With the startups that I have cofounded, I have always made sure to build a strong advisory board with experienced members. For my meet, I had my friend Tom Kosanouvong, who’s a record holding powerlifter, coach me. Not only did he coach me and do my training programming, but he also mentored me along the journey.

3. Be mentally strong

There is a saying that powerlifting is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. When walking up to the bar and attempting a personal record, you can’t have any doubt in your mind. You also need to be mentally strong enough when having a bad training day to realize it’s just an isolated incident and not get discouraged.

An entrepreneur is someone who jumps from a plane without a parachute and figures out how to build one on the way down. If that doesn’t take mental strength, I don’t know what does. As an entrepreneur, you need to be mentally strong enough to deal with all the stress and rejection that comes along with the territory and never lose focus of your vision.

4. Be patient

Building a business and building strength both take a very long time. When I first started weight training, I wanted a 405 lb deadlift. The first time I tried pulling this weight I failed. I later realized that just because I wasn’t able to do it that day didn’t mean I wasn’t capable of doing in the future. I was patient, trained hard, and eventually pulled 419 lbs during my meet.

When I first became an entrepreneur, I was very young and impatient. Although I am a still young and still not the most patient person in the world, I now realize anything worth building takes time. After a few years of failed ventures, hard work, and patience, my newest venture, Benchmark Intelligence, has been just accepted into a top tier accelerator program, and we’re on our way to a bright future.

Through entrepreneurship and powerlifting, I learned that progress takes time, a lot of it. Even though I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished thus far, I know I have to remain patient because there is so much more work to be done.


Eric Santos is the co-CEO of Benchmark Intelligence, a suite of analytics tools for enterprise location management. He previously founded WishBooklet and Scheduly.