On Saturday evening I was in Phoenix, Arizona, taking in an AMA (American Motocross Association) Supercross race – the best riders in the world competing against each other. During the day we hung out in the pits, and I primarily visited with a pro rider who is a friend of mine, and another friend who is the wife of a former pro, now retired.
What is interesting about the sport of supercross/motocross, is that there is a small group of top riders (roughly the top 15 in the world) who get picked up by a manufacturer as a sponsor that fully funds everything for the rider. After that top group, the next level of pro riders (the next 25 or so) that are good enough to make the “evening show” after a day of qualifying, are known as “privateers.” These sub groups of riders also have various sponsors to assist with the cost of some of the equipment, etc., but they are primarily on their own and they have to work hard and pay their way. These are very good riders as well (still in the top 40 in the world), but these guys are usually 4-10 seconds per lap, behind the best of the best in the world.
It’s interesting to think about what the real differences are between these two groups. You could take two relatively equal pro riders who are in the top 40 and both riding about the same, and one gets “picked up” by a manufacturer’s team and the other doesn’t. Within a couple of years, the rider who got “picked up” has advanced and is now in that very top echelon, while the other remains right around where they were and has made just minimal improvement. It is very rare to see a “privateer” jump into that very top group.
The rider with the team behind him travels by plane and his team travels with him. He has a doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, coach, mechanics, etc. all around him. He is supported to train all week long at a world class facility and then flies into the race the day before. His bike has been “tricked out” with all the latest gadgets and cost is not a factor. If between heats on race day, a new tire is needed (or engine for that matter), it is replaced by his crew, and he doesn’t have to worry about a thing. The privateer on the other hand is in the pits on his own, doing his own repairs to his bike at his own expense. He doesn’t have a big fancy trailer to rest in (unless he has his own wealth), and he likely just arrived the night before having driven a long distance from his home town where he was working his construction job all week long, and hopefully getting in some workouts in the evening.
The point is this, with the right kind of support and the right team around him, a top rider in the world climbs even higher. Without the intense support that is offered through a manufactures sponsorship, it is difficult if not impossible to make that final leap where a rider can trim just a few more seconds off his lap time on a consistent basis, and win the big money.
I know a lot of great entrepreneurs and business people. I get to watch people make decisions as they make efforts to scale up, improve and grow their market share. I can think of several examples of individuals I know who have either not scaled up well or have scaled up well, and one of the most important predictors is the extent to which they are successful in building a team around them to support them well.
- Recognize that you cannot reach the top of your game regardless of your line of business, without the support of a team around you.
- If you are struggling to identify and gather a team, what is it that is keeping you from doing so? Usually it has something to do with ego, lack of trust or another internal barrier that you need to own and deal with.
- If you do have a team around you, stop and consider what parts of the business could benefit from some improvement. Once you determine what those are, assess the extent to which you have support and an expert team working on those parts. Chances are you are missing some support pieces or key team members – recruit them and delegate authority.
Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and workplace mental health.
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