business grand prix — sportsmanship

You win some. You lose some. Ideally, both are done with dignity. Nobody likes a sour loser.

Finishing second or lower is sometimes hard to understand, especially after a prolonged super natural performance. Even with the maximum amount of planning and preparation, many things can happen. Maybe a racer performed better, but their car is slower than their competitors.

In races, as in enterprises, so many things have to go right. A plethora of different aspects to master, many of them which are hard to control.

In a grand prix, when a racer falls behind, the only option they have is to play catch-up. Too much focus on the car in front almost certainly results in copying their mistakes. When the racer, who is under attack, feels pressure, they might miss their braking point only by a split second, causing them to miss the turn. At all times, a racer must drive their own race.

To compare is to despair. Focusing on why a competitor appears to be “luckier” has no value. Focus on improving your business, with dignity.

This is the ninth and final part in the business grand prix series.

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 — deep focus

That look. Only the eyes are visible. The rest of the racer’s face is covered in their helmet. Immersed in thoughts, going around the track, mentally. Calculating different scenarios. A level of concentration so deep, it almost becomes a meditative state.

Michael Schumacher is one of the greatest racers ever. Even though his capabilities supersede those of us mortals, he did have one flaw. Because he was so fast, sometimes while leading a race, the racer in second place was so far behind, and there was literally no pressure at all. During a (minimal) number of races, Michael Schumacher would experience no pressure at all, perhaps even get slightly bored, and as a result, make mistakes.

Deep focus is definitely a valuable asset. The ability to build up a level of concentration and maintain it can and should be trained. Not only should it be practiced, but it should also be enabled. Going from meeting to meeting, entering a state of deep focus is challenging.

business grand prix — broad knowledge

Aerodynamics, thermodynamics, physics… Just a few of the skills racers have to master. The better they understand them, the easier it is to tweak their vehicles, together with the engineers, all in an attempt to be the first to cross the checkered flag.

Business leaders have to understand a wide variety of skills as well. Product, marketing, sales, accounting… The list goes on.

The goal isn’t to become an expert in all of these fields individually. The goal is to have an understanding that allows other experts to do their job as well as they can.

Suppose the entrepreneur doesn’t know anything at all about accounting. The entrepreneur then has to rely entirely on other people’s advice. Given that the entrepreneur has no mechanism to judge the authenticity of the advice, there is a substantial risk involved.

business grand prix – tweaking

From pre-season practice to race weekend practice squeezing the last drop of performance out of the vehicle is what sets excellent racers apart.

Going out on the track, shifting brake balance, dampening suspension differently, adjusting gear ratio… All in an attempt to have the ultimate set-up for a particular track.

The same is true of entrepreneurs. Even though laziness isn’t all bad, the periods where business leaders can rest on their laurels are mostly short-lived.

The eagerness to constantly improve. Tweak a process, measure the outcomes. The critical mindset unwilling to accept the status quo. That’s what’s required.

Do better. Time and time again.

business grand prix — aggression

I’m not the one to encourage socially destructive values. Aggression could be considered as such. In a race, the line between assertiveness and aggression is often a fine one.

Overtaking a competitor requires driving offensively and without attacking; moving up a position simply doesn’t happen. Inversely, preventing a competitor from overtaking requires a more defensive driving – or riding style. There are, nevertheless, rules as to how racers can defend their position. Typically, the number of times a racer can deviate from their racing line is (very) limited.

It’s business. It isn’t personal. A phrase so-called (business) sharks don’t shy away from. Does that mean that entrepreneurs need to be aggressive, ruthless without scruples? No.

In Business As In Life- You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate

Chester L. Karrass.

Your business, your passion. Go and get it. Chase your goals relentlessly without crossing ethical and morals borders.

business grand prix — stamina

Stamina and endurance aren’t necessarily the same. Endurance defines the physical ability to keep performing at maximum output, throughout one race. Stamina defines the ability with which a racer can perform throughout the entire season or championship. Meaning, stamina entails physical capacity, as well as mental capacity.

Obviously, physical and mental capabilities go hand in hand and reinforce one another.

Stamina, the mental capacity to endure, time and time again, is the singe most important characteristic for entrepreneurs. There is no such thing as overnight success.

Throughout the season, you might win some races, you might lose some. The capacity with which entrepreneurs refuse to give up is crucial.

business grand prix — endurance

Breaking a collarbone on Friday during practice, have surgery a couple of hours later, to appear at the start of the race on Sunday. Athletes, supernatural ones, have been known to do it. Even though racers should avoid crashing, it’s not always possible.

Endurance, the ability to sustain an (athletic) activity, can be improved, both from a muscular and cardiovascular perspective. How so? By training. Put simply, repeatedly doing a particular activity while trying to get better at it counts as trying.

How does all this translate to entrepreneurship?

Improving at running a business can be trained by doing precisely that. Even though the physical pain is significantly less than the above-mentioned athletes, long days and long nights certainly leave their mark. Long hours put a strain on your mind, body, and relationships.

World champions start training right after they can walk and proceed to pocket bikes or go-carts. By the time they take home the title, they have trained intensively for twenty years. Making tons of sacrifices in the process.

Young racers are often more aggressive, hence take more risks, and subsequently crash more often. The same is true of entrepreneurs.

Improving entrepreneurial endurance doesn’t happen overnight. Keeping your head up in the face of adversity isn’t easy. It requires thick skin. Finding the right balance between input, output, and recovery is a lifelong process.

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.