Sure he rides a bike for a living so it might be a bit hard to understand what Cadel Evans could possibly have to teach you about running a successful small business, but humour me… there’s plenty of lessons to be learnt from his big win on the weekend!
You’ve probably heard the saying “No man is an island” and this is so true for ANY business. Many small businesses are comprised of just one or two people and it’s easy to feel isolated and alone sometimes. In today’s highly connected world it is easy to pull a great ‘team’ together.
You might frequent a small business forum, or chat to likeminded people in your industry on twitter. Or you may actively seek out a business mentor. No matter which avenue you pursue, there is no excuse NOT to surround yourself with great people.
And if you are a small business with staff … well I don’t need to tell you how important it is that you have great staff!
Cycling is a brutal sport and if you don’t love it, you’d probably find it hard to get in your saddle and ride for six hours day in, day out.
Same goes for your business – if the passion isn’t there, putting in 8+ hour days is going to suck the life out of you. So if there is nothing in your business that is currently feeding your passion, you need to find something that does.
Hate the accounting side of things but love marketing your business? Then hire a bookkeeper. Yes there is a cost to this, but if you hate doing the books, I can guarantee that you’ll spend hours more than you need to reconciling bank accounts … all while you could be doing what you really enjoy, and that’s bringing in new business.
Cadel has been working towards a Tour de France win for a long time – this year was the 7th time he has made the lap of France. Every time he has raced the Tour, he’s gone in with a clear plan to achieve a clear goal – to win.
So many small businesses are highly reactive, responding only to the squeakiest wheels and letting other, less ‘noisy’ issues fall by the wayside. This often leads to a situation where you feel you are frantically treading water and barely keeping your nose up where they oxygen is. And this means your business isn’t moving forward.
You need to figure out where you want your business to go and how you are going to get it there. Regular planning is essential and builds a level of accountability into your business that keeps your business operations heading in the right direction – even when things are insanely busy.
The final two mountain stages in this year’s Tour de France threw up some unexpected challenges for Cadel. First he had to tow the entire peleton 10.5km up a mountain in order to shut down an outrageous and unexpected large gap to Andy Schleck. Then the next day, at a crucial point in the stage, his bike had a mechanical failure losing him 90 seconds in the blink of an eye.
The unexpected WILL happen in your business. You just need to stay calm, assess the situation, make the best decisions you can with the information you have at hand, and then get to work creating a remedy.
Cadel finished second twice in the Tour de France in 2007 and 2008 before two years in the ‘wilderness’ in 2009 and 2010. This year he is 34 and everyone thought his tour winning window had closed. But he didn’t – and his team didn’t. He believed in himself 100% and has become the oldest winner of the Tour de France ever.
Running a small business is very hard work and in the early years, you may feel like you are on a treadmill, working really hard and never getting anywhere. But you must push on and believe that your hard work will be rewarded and success will come your way. Lack this belief and you will find it hard to win the day 🙂