business grand prix — fearlessness

Driving 350 kilometers an hour, at the end of the long straight of the most beautiful circuit in the world, situated in Spa in the Belgian Ardennes, right before the right corner, braking one-tenth of a second earlier (or later) is an eternity. Driving in the second position, attacking the racer in first, while defending the second position from the racer in the third position requires fearlessness.

Fearlessness, in this case, is not at all taking uncalculated risks. Training every hour of the day for a lifetime, practicing each and every scenario has nothing to do with recklessness.

Entrepreneurs who are just starting, or weathered entrepreneurs who’ve been around the block entering a new market, need the same mindset.

A hundred percent of certainty, before engaging in a new entrepreneurial adventure, is unrealistic. It’s just not achievable. Jeff Bezos once wrote the following in an annual shareholder letter. “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had, if you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”

After gaining some insight into what lies ahead, it’s time to jump. No fear.
Take the leap of faith.

business grand prix — crashing

Six liters. That’s how much a Formula One driver loses in sweat throughout the course of one Grand Prix. Moto GP riders, crashing at 300 kilometers an hour, brush the gravel off, pick their bike up, and resume their race. Like it’s nothing.

This type of athleticism is truly astounding. I see nine parallels between these types of athletes and entrepreneurs. Namely, crashing, endurance, stamina, aggression, tweaking, broad knowledge, deep focus, fearlessness, and sportsmanship. Not necessarily in that order. Throughout the following days, I’ll highlight one resemblance at a time.


Sooner or later, accidents are bound to happen, even without making any mistakes. Another driver or rider could brake no more than one-tenth of a second later, touching your rear wheel ever so gently. At high speed, even the faintest touch can alter one’s course dramatically. In motorsports, racers are not allowed to touch each other’s vehicles deliberately. Racing incidents get investigated. Should the race committee think that there might be foul play, the racer will get penalized.

In business, even with the maximum amount of focus, the best team, and crystal clear strategic vision, you might still crash due to a competitor. It’s not always you. Without committing fraud, a rival business might start to target your market or geography. There is no committee deciding who should get penalized. Luckily. Otherwise, the free market would be compromised. In short, your business might crash, even if you play all of your cards right.

It is, however, always you who has to pick up the pieces and get back up. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

In order to learn how to crash and consequently how to get back up, crashes have to be experienced physically. As with many things in life, the more you crash, the better you’ll get at it. Convincing your mind that it’s okay to crash a bike at 300 kilometers per hour requires truckloads of courage.

Crashes should be avoided at all costs. They will, however, occur. When they do, it’s a matter of getting back in the saddle to keep on riding.

choices made for us

A muffled “krak”-like sound. That’s what I heard when I landed out of a jump in rehearsal. With that sound, something in my knee snapped. Finishing my dancing career in the theater in the blink of an eye.

One lousy landing wiped away everything I had vigorously worked for in an instant. All the holidays sacrificed. All the things regular kids were able to do. Had it all been for nothing? Training to be a dancer is similar to training to be an elite athlete, with an added layer of artistry.

From the outside in, it may seem like entrepreneurs always are their own bosses and that they’re able to make every little choice in their career for themselves. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

This one goes out to all the entrepreneurs who had choices made for them. Entrepreneurs forced to quit due to road works in the street of their shop. Restaurant keepers taking heavy blows due to lockdown regulations. Co-owners who have no choice but to forfeit because their partners decide to quit.

If you ever have a choice made for you, know that the sparkle, your unique ability to do what you have been doing in your entrepreneurial career is still there. You must find a way to re-apply it, perhaps in a different domain.

Choices made for us impact us differently as opposed to choices we deliberately make for ourselves.

against some odds

When you can’t make the turn, riding a motorcycle, sometimes you have to accelerate. Slowing down will decrease forward momentum, as well as the angle with which you can turn. Not releasing the throttle or even speeding up to make the turn feels very counter-intuitive. It requires a unique mindset. A mindset that doesn’t come around often.

Taking a turn while approaching a proverbial wall, every fiber in your body is screaming, slow down. That’s what it feels like (most of the time) to run a startup.

The tenacity to not release the throttle, even accelerate, is what separates entrepreneurs suitable for a new, innovative business model from those suitable for an attested and proven business model.

good fear

Fearlessness sounds cool, as does “no regrets.” While these sentiments may seem desirable on paper, in reality, that’s often not the case. Without a healthy dose every once in a while, you may just be scratching the surface.

What are some legitimate fears? What if my customers don’t experience enough added value (anymore)? Which innovation have I missed that could turn my business model upside down?

Resting on one’s laurels is rarely a sound business strategy. Keep your eyes open. Allow yourself to be ever so slightly afraid in order to use that energy to improve your business.