This week: 12 year anniversary.
Image: Moments after signing our first lease, 2011.
Tri Town just passed its 12 year anniversary. Before opening the shop, I did not have a formal business background, but I did play a lot of sports, and it turns out sports can be a good teacher for business. This week's newsletter is on 12 lessons from sports that have helped me in business:
- A scarcity mentality prevents action. Many of us never start because we feel we need *something* before we can begin. A lesson I learned about a year after opening Tri Town was that I was more scared of opening a business than I should have been. Before opening, I thought I needed more money, education, and experience before opening a business. After opening, I realized that I could never have all the answers, and all those reasons I came up with were just excuses to procrastinate on following my dream. Take action now, you'll figure out the important stuff as you go.
- Seeking perfection prevents action. Your form, technique and game does not need to be perfect, especially in the beginning. Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” In sport and business, the key is to constantly re-create, edit, and improve what you have. It's not about being perfect the first time. Seeking perfection is closely related to the scarcity mindset in that it is simply another excuse to procrastinate.
- Play to your strengths: We all have aspects of our game we're more natural at, and when competing we should maximize and leverage those advantages. When opening the shop, my business partner and I knew there was a strong triathlon community who were underserved by the local market. We were coaches with a strong racing, retail, and mechanical background. That was our advantage, and those were the cards we played. It was a niche market, but there can be riches in niches.
- Turn a perceived weakness into a strength. Our first location had just 800 sq/ft of retail floor space. The limited floor space meant we could only stock the most essential equipment, and it made it difficult to serve more than one or two clients at a time. We embraced just-in-time (JIT) inventory and we focused on personal interactions with clients, often by appointment. JIT had the benefit of keeping cost down and made it easy to track what was selling, while an emphasis on scheduling appointments with clients allowed us to build credibility and give clients the time they deserve.
- Be honest with yourself. An athlete must first and foremost be fully honest with himself. You cannot sugar caught your level of commitment or effort. True confidence is built by being fully committed, knowing you gave 100% of yourself to the cause. It's no different in business.
- Hold yourself to the highest standard. Closely related to being honest with yourself: no coach, fellow athlete, or customer should expect more of you than you expect of yourself. Never compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to yourself- what you’re capable of and what your best effort can produce.
- Become the person required to succeed. Who you are today may not be the person you need to be in order to succeed tomorrow. An athlete is like a business in that she must always be adapt and evolve in order to succeed. Only have time to exercise at 5am? Become a morning person. Can't afford coaching? Become a reader and learn the basics of endurance training. At Tri Town, some of the skills I've embraced since opening include: business management, accounting, online retail, web design, photography, carpentry, contract negotiation, and more.
- Fail fast and move on. As an athlete you must become comfortable with failing, learning the lesson, and moving on quickly. Thomas Edison was famously productive in his career, filing over 1,000 patents in his lifetime. Despite his success, he was even more successful at failing. He once stated: "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." When failure is viewed as an important step of the change/adaptation process, we embrace failure, learn the lesson, and move on. We only lose if we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. See last week's post on the hidden value of failure.
- Love drives commitment. Few athletes find success without being deeply commitment for an extended period of time. Time and commitment are the filter for success. You must love what you're doing if you're going to stick with it for a long time. A 30 hour training week or an 80 hour work week is not so hard if you love every minute of it. It can be heaven if you'd rather be doing nothing else.
- Continuous improvement never ends. The best athletes are like the best businesses in that every aspect of their game is open to critique and review. No policy, person, or product is sacred. We should never say, "This is just how we do it." There should be a valid reason for why and how everything is done.
- Never forget the basics. Just because something is basic, it does not mean that it is easy. In business and sport, a most basic principle is the art of showing up every day ready to play your best. It's basic, but it's not easy. As we grow and develop, it's common to forget the basics and move onto more advance aspects of our craft. Track work, intervals, and plyometrics are all good, but they're more likely to be your undoing if you have not first built a good foundation of base fitness. The greats never stop working the basics, and they build their craft from the ground up.
- Gladly pay the tax. There is a significant price to pay to be successful in sport or in business. Seneca once said, "I pay the taxes of life gladly." He's not just talking about government taxes (though pro athletes pay their share), he's talking about the price we must pay to do anything special. The real tax to build and run a business is time, energy, and the fact that people will question and criticize your decisions, intentions, and character. It's okay. We can whine about it, or we can get on with doing our work.
Thank you for 12+ years of support!
Weekend race report:
The North American racing season kicked off with 70.3 Oceanside with stacked pro fields on both the men's and women's side. WTCS World Champion Leo Bergére took the men's title, and former Canadian National Team runner Tamara Jewett took the women's title. Congrats to local professionals Danielle Lewis (6th) and Tri Town's own Travis Wood (15th).
If you have a moment to spare:
Incredibly cool website on the physics of riding a bicycle.
Tri Town Bicycles
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