Why the Bathurst 1000 is Like a Startup

Starting a business is a lot like a race. Here's the how and why of what new business owners can take away from the Bathurst 1000.

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V8 Supercars (Image Source Zimbio), www.crowdink.com
V8 Supercars (Image Source Zimbio)

As I sat down this morning to tune in for a stint of the Bathurst 1000, it hit me that there were a lot of parallels between the race and business. My tweet went out, “Can’t wait for Bathurst1000 to start. Such a good example of the parallels between sport and business #strategy #preparation #discipline.” As I drove home after a quick drop-off at the airport (and fought with myself to not pretend I was a V8 Supercar Driver) I thought further about this and realised there were even more parallels, particularly to startups.

The first thing that struck me was the enormous amount of preparation that had gone into everything. The teams, the drivers and even the television presenters – everything was running as a well-oiled machine and the final outcome was schmick. Now, as a startup, it’s unrealistic to be that well-prepared, and potentially even detrimental as you really want to be out talking to people and continually testing and optimizing as quickly as you can. However, good preparation is still critical, as it means that any activity invested can have the maximum value extracted from them. As the old saying goes, “if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it properly.”

When it comes to your startup, be sure that you always ask yourself the following questions before you do anything, to make sure you get the most out of them:

  1. What is the goal outcome of the activity?
  2. What must be done to provide the best chance of achieving that?
  3. What will I do after I achieve the outcome?
  4. How does this help the bigger vision of the company?

By doing this not only will you use your time as wisely as possible, you will also give yourself the best chance at only investing time into the things that add value to your business – a critical thing when it comes to a startup.ategy

Every single team entering the race had a strategy entering into it. They knew who was going to be the first driver, when their pitstops were going to be and how they were going to manage fuel consumption as well. Most importantly, they knew how all of these things, in addition to hundreds if not thousands more, would each contribute towards the ultimate goal – a race win.

As a startup this is also important. What are the things that you need to do, in what order, so you achieve the ultimate goals for you? It’s incredibly easy to get distracted by shiny objects and things that present as more fun. However, as an entrepreneur you need to ensure that what you do spend time on has a clear purpose and likely outcome that moves you forward because if you don’t, your competitors will break ahead real fast!ty

The Bathurst1000 is such a big deal because it’s so epic – 1000kms long in fact. 161 laps of peak performance, concentration and focus required.

Beyond the fact that it takes something incredible from everyone involved, it also means that no matter how good your preparation and strategy is entering the race, it’s highly unlikely everything will go to plan. There will be accidents, safety cars, and changes in the weather. In a startup it’s just the same. Customers won’t respond the way you hoped, sales will fluctuate in patterns you don’t expect and people will demand things of you that you hadn’t even considered. The difference between those that succeed and those that get lapped by the competitors is their ability to be agile.

As an entrepreneur you need to be ready to learn from the situation at hand as quickly as you can, so you can change direction, change your strategy and put in place some actions that are more appropriate for how things eventuate. If you need to change your product to include a feature your customers are demanding, do it. If you need to change your pricing strategy, do it. Whatever the situation, learn from your surrounds, be agile and improve your future potential. Don’t keep driving around on tyres for the dry, when it’s bucketing down rain.work

When watching The Great Race, as they call it, it’s easy to get carried away in the hype of the superhero drivers. But what quickly becomes apparent is how much teamwork is required. There are engineers, race strategists, mechanics, logistics experts and countless support staff. And probably dozens more people you don’t see. Frankly, the drivers are just the tip of the iceberg.

This is no different to being an entrepreneur. Whilst it’s easy to get carried away trying to be a hero, the reality is that when it comes to achieving something amazing, an incredible team is required. Find people that are experts in their field, share with them your vision and start working together to create a result that is simply impossible by yourself. Don’t let your ego get in the way by trying to do everything, learn how to delegate and trust in your team – you’ll go much further, much faster.

Preparation, strategy, agility and teamwork are only a few key ingredients to ultimate success. If we tried, we could probably come up with at least 10 more. So what is it that brings it all together? Discipline.

At Bathurst, the discipline comes into it a long time before the race starts. The drivers need the discipline to keep their bodies at peak levels, the teams need the discipline to keep doing all the 1%ers that set their cars up for the best chance for success. As an entrepreneur, once again it’s no different.

You’ll need the discipline to work hard every single day, the discipline to give your mind and body the fuel and recovery it needs to perform at its best and of course the discipline to do all the little things that make a successful business. Without it there’s no consistency, no learning and no progression and therefore, no success.

Every year 3 teams stand on the podium at the end of 1000kms of unbelievable work and to accompany them, I assume, an incredible feeling of achievement. This same feeling is available to all entrepreneurs, so long as they put in the effort required to come out on top at the end of what is a very long journey. Just remember:

  1. Get prepared so you do everything as well as you can;
  2. Know your strategy to ensure you’re continually moving forward;
  3. Learn how to be agile, so you’re business keeps improving, rather than fighting a losing battle;
  4. Build a great team around you and learn how to trustfully delegate;
  5. Stay disciplined in everything you do as all the little things add up!