You've heard about how poorly the motorcycle manufacturers are doing these days. Sales and profits are down, some plants are in danger of closing, and now dealers with multiple dealerships in one city are being asked to consolidate into one location. They say it's because 'discretionary spending' is down. But I have a question: When did owning a motorcycle become discretionary?
I believe that owning a motorcycle is as American as entrepreneurship--and vital to a founder's long-term business success. I learned many years ago that the skills and techniques necessary to be a successful biker directly transfer to my daily business life.
1. Running a business is one long road trip.
The first thing bikers learn is how to get from here to there safely and successfully. Bikers know how to select the right destination, plot out the right course to get there, and prepare for the unexpected. Bikers know how to overcome adversity along the way, whether it's bad weather (the economy), poor road conditions (market fluctuations), or crazy cagers (competitors). Both biking and business are nothing more than vehicles designed to take you where you want to go: one physically, the other economically.
2. Both business and biking require you to assume reasonable risk.
And if not done properly, they can both cause severe damage to you. Staying upright requires awareness, timing, and a keen ability to sift through the background noise and B.S. that surrounds you. So the lesson from both is not about overcoming fear, but instead understanding and embracing it. Because riding scared is a fast ticket to the hospital--or business failure.
3. I like hanging out with real people.
Bikers and entrepreneurs are a similar and bold lot. Both groups are independent, adventurous, strong-willed, and utterly intolerant of fences. Go to any biker hangout and you'll see business leaders and professionals sitting next to mechanics, carpenters, and full-time bikers. They come together to celebrate the culture of riding, to exercise their passions. And they come together to have the type of real-life, frank conversations that can only happen between two people with nothing to gain but an honest point of view. When's the last time that's happened to you at a chamber of commerce meeting?
4. Passion is the fuel of desire.
When that desire is properly channeled, you achieve excellence. On a bike, it's about feeling the crisp air while navigating the winding road. In business, it's putting yourself out there on the winding roads of the marketplace. With both, happiness comes when you turn our passion into performance.
5. Biking is a total attitude adjustment.
Ask any entrepreneur who rides and he'll say the same thing: I ride to get away from it all for a while. I do some of my best thinking in the saddle because my synapses are popping right along with that V-twin. Riding an open road seems to charge my brain impulses with an even hotter spark as the sights, sounds, and smells combine to rev up all my senses.
I'd definitely rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about my business than sitting in an office thinking about my motorcycle.
But this is just my opinion. I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to comment, please do so in the section below. I look forward to your point of view.
In November, Dwain M. DeVille will co-host and co-lead the first-ever Inc. Riders Summit, a three-day motorcycle road trip through the Nevada desert for entrepreneurs. For more information about the ride, the entrepreneur-led business sessions, or the networking, click here.