A couple of weeks ago; I ended a 15 year void of riding a bicycle. I have moved houses 5 times with this bike without ever riding it – so even after I decided to start riding again; it needed some serious TLC. I arranged a local shop to do the tune-up and convert tires from use on a trail to use on the streets. The day I got it back; I realized that starting a business is much like riding a bike.
The beauty of riding a bicycle is that it is easier to balance the faster the wheels spin. The spinning motion creates a gyroscope effect that actually works to keep you vertical. At very slow speeds, it is nearly impossible to keep it upright.
Every business has some sort of ‘gyroscope effect’ – momentum in one aspect brings absolute stability to the rest of the system. Most owners want to say it is simply sales or cash flow that brings this effect; but it could also be much more subtle things like research; public relations; leadership; having effective meetings; or communications that actually brings balance.
Use your Gears:
Being a trail style bike; I have 21 gears all set around climbing steep hills on uneasy terrain. I don’t know the exact ratios; but the lowest gear allows my legs to pedal about 5 times while the rear wheel only goes around once. In this gear, it takes a lot of easy legwork to make a little progress. As I click through the gears, the ratio eventually flips to one cycle of pedals equals 5 of the rear wheel. This is intense legwork that really produces speed.
Whether we are launching a new product/company or seeking new clients; we have to do a lot of easy legwork to make initial progress. Shaking hands, smiling, making phone calls, getting to know market/client – all of it is easy work. As we build momentum and learn the needs of the market/client; we get to ask for the sale; write proposals, and fulfill the orders to specification – truly more challenging work; but this is how we make money.
The biking community in Louisville KY is quite strong and friendly with lots of smiling and waving to each other. The coolest thing is when 3 or more bikers get together at a traffic light. It is quite common for them to ride together (safety in numbers) to a common destination even if it is slightly out of the way for the individuals.
The entrepreneur community (local and global) is quite similar. They look for other entrepreneurs with whom they can share ideas, technology, connections, and sometimes they even share office space and funding!
The last similarity is that both biking and entrepreneuring are rather addictive. It is common to own more than one bike; and start more than one business!
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