This morning I caught myself thinking about the MS Bike Ride, the funds raised for MS, the love and support of friends, family and especially my teammates. I underestimated the valuable insights I gained from this journey.
I would like to share 15 of these lessons with you:
1. “Bumps in the Road” are uncomfortable, but they won’t kill you or even derail you. It’s the same in business. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes less profitable, but bumps (losing a sale, orders wrong, computers down) won’t put you out of business.
2. Riding 113 miles was easy because it was well marked. I wish growing a business was that well marked. However, having the right business coach, mentor or partner can help.
3. You get into trouble when you don’t pay attention to the landscape. I saw 3 people fall because they weren’t watching their terrain. I fell when I was training because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. We do that in business as well. We have to pay attention to the signs: changing industry, new competitors undercutting prices or offering more services, our demographics changing, etc.
4. Your support group means everything. I wouldn’t have started, trained or completed this without Lauren Beck and Betty Sanders. We knew from the start we each brought something different to the group. Riding the MS Jack and Back Bike Ride was Lauren’s idea. She did it 2 years ago and wanted to do it again. I immediately made the spread sheet with our training and eating plans. Betty kept us on track. Lauren and I would want to stop at 20 miles of training. Betty reminded us that we said we would do 30 miles. We did 30 miles.
On each ride, Betty’s primary goal was our safety and staying together. I was always concerned that I was going to hold everyone up, so I always set the pace and kept pushing us to train harder. Lauren was always there to have fun. Because we had each other we were stronger.
As a business owner who is your support group?
5. It’s all mental! My mind said, “I can’t do it, I’m too old, I haven’t trained enough!” Betty, Lauren and others kept telling me I could. I am so grateful for this support.
In business it’s all mental. A few years back I was coaching a new business owner and she had a sales coach as well. During most of our sessions we planned what she was going to do to grow her business and she would cry. She wasn’t doing what she needed to do. Her mind defeated her. She went back to a corporate job.
6. What people say to you can have a big influence, positively and negatively. About a week before the event, my trainer, Pate, said to me, “push through your fears and you will be amazed at how well you will do! And how great you will feel about your accomplishments.”
On the second day of the event, I decided I was coming home and not riding. I had a lot of work to do and I needed to work more than finish the race. My team; Betty and Lauren, didn’t say a word. I took a minute alone and remembered what Pate said. I decided to push through my fears. I am so glad he said those words to me!
What words do you hear in your mind when you hit fear? Make sure you have someone who believes in you and what you are doing. Growing a business is tough! You are tougher!!
7. Rest and replenish. Eating a big dinner and getting 9 hours of sleep helped.
Rest and replenish often. Get away from your business. Take vacations!
8. Make friends along the way. It was fun to talk with other bikers at the rest stops. In business, go to conventions and association meetings. Get to know other business owners who are doing what you do. You can learn so much from them.
9. Sometimes you can’t see your greatest opponent. Ours was the wind. Both Saturday and Sunday we had high winds that would knock our bikes and slow us down.
In your business your greatest opponent could be a disengaged employee, or a competitor that is undermining you. What is your greatest opponent?
10. Develop your unique way of doing things! I came up with my way of riding the hills. I would pick a point to start counting. Then I would make myself count to at least 10 between the times I changed gears. It worked. I got stronger and stronger and I climbed those hills.
Make doing business with you unique. Make it your way.
11. Under promise and over deliver! Set realistic goals. I didn’t. I hadn’t been on my bicycle in about 8 years. I started training in July. I needed more than the 3 months I gave myself to prepare and train. Yes, I made it but I wouldn’t have been so fearful if I had given myself more time to train.
What stress are you creating by over promising?
12. Eat an elephant one bite at a time. On Sunday when I wasn’t sure I could make the ride back, I decided I could make it to the first rest stop, only 9 miles from the starting point. I knew I could then ask for a lift back to Paige High School where the car was parked. I knew I could ride 9 miles, or 14 miles or 10 miles. I did that to the next rest stop and the next, until I rode my bike across the finish line.
When I saw a hill coming up, I looked down and counted. I knew I could peddle 100 times. Then I would look up to see how much more, then count again, etc.
Take those projects and divide them into small tasks. Take one task at a time.
13. Enjoy the journey. Middle Tennessee is beautiful. We saw cows, deer, dogs, houses, horses, barns, fields, and towns. It was beautiful and the sky was beautiful both days.
Enjoy the journey of building your business. Enjoy the people, the learning and the success along the way.
14. Make it bigger than you! Because of my friends, I raised over $600 for MS. At one of the rest stops a woman came up to us to thank us for what we are doing. She lives with MS. Her medicine is over $800 a month and she can’t afford it, but the MS society helps her get it with the money we raised. The total raised at this event is over $500,000 and this is the 20th year for the event.
Caregivers with WholeCare sponsors the ALS walk by raising money and participating as a team in the walk. What can your company do to give back?
15. Celebrate! At every rest stop we high fived and celebrated. We were in the middle of it. We were doing it!
As an entrepreneur, things can be tough! Celebrate every victory!