How mountain biking and business building go hand-in-hand, and what I learned about business in a weekend mountain bike camp

This past weekend I had the opportunity to try something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I took a mountain biking course.

I bought my first mountain bike about 23 years ago. I invested in a bike that could keep up with my friends and it was a great first bike. It served me until now because, quite frankly, I rarely used it.

The thing is, I never got past the beginner stage. I had the bike, I had friends to ride with, yet I never developed the skill to navigate the technical nature of the trails my friends biked on.

I tried, I got frustrated, and I gradually just stopped going.

A couple of years ago, I went for a mountain bike ride with my family and another family. I hadn’t been in years and (surprise, surprise) my skills hadn’t gotten better without practice. So, like one does when faced with fear in front of a steep downhill, I slammed on the brakes and flipped over the handle bars.

I could barely walk afterwards.

Mountain Bike

Mountain Biking with the Shred Sisters in Canmore.

It took me two years to “get back on the bike.” And this time, I was determined. I upgraded to a bike that suited me more now, and, most importantly, I signed up for a mountain biking lesson.

The Shred Sisters were awesome. They were supportive, skilled and we learned in a group environment geared towards the female rider. There was a strong acknowledgement that women learn differently than men and we were fed up with the “cry rides” where we got frustrated, threw our bikes down the hill, and the guys gave up and considered us wimps.

And I thought that was just me. Turns out many women have a hard time learning to bike with their significant others and that men and women often really do learn differently.

I left the weekend exhilarated, pumped, proud of myself, and most importantly – I could now ride a mountain bike with skill! I didn’t have to simply rely on sheer determination and strength to navigate the technical trails, I now had the skill and know-how to do it.

I couldn’t help but think how many other things this experience could be related to – and this week I’m going to compare my mountain biking experience to building a business as a new entrepreneur.

For all of you new and emerging business owners out there, how many of you have tried to muscle through a difficult situation? How many of you have tried to do it alone? How many of you have been in an unsupportive environment and frustrated by your inability to move forward?

Perhaps it’s time you found a community of like-minded peers, in a supportive, skilled atmosphere so you can emerge having moved forward, instead of frustrated and at a standstill – or worse – having given up completely?

Is it time you found a community of like-minded peers so you can emerge having moved forward, instead of feeling frustrated and at a standstill in your business?Click To Tweet

Here are six lessons that I learned last weekend while mountain-biking that apply to the emerging entrepreneur and business owner:

1. Perseverance

The biggest thing I needed during the weekend was perseverance. “Just keep going” my bike instructor kept saying; “just keep swimming!” as Dory might say in the Disney movie Nemo. Having been a solopreneur for 16 years now, “just keep going” has been my mantra for a long time.

What are the alternatives? Quit? Stop? Sure, you can stop at any time. You can walk at any time. You can close your business at any time. And will you? No. Just keep going. You will eventually get to your destination.

2. Acquire skill

Why oh why had I not taken a course years ago? Why did I assume I could just figure it out? Having the instruction of skilled mountain bike instructors was key to my learning how to navigate tight corners, cross bridges and jump logs on the trail.

Clearly, I had not learned it on my own and after one short weekend I can now do things I had not tackled years ago. The same goes for business owners. Don’t assume you have all the skills you need to run a successful business. Get the skills you don’t have so you can go further, faster, and achieve success sooner.

3. Join a Community

I love learning, working and existing in a community. It’s part of my DNA. So signing up for a mountain-bike camp with like-minded women who could share in my learning and celebrate my successes was lovely. Being a solopreneur and doing it alone can be, well, lonely. What if you joined a group of women invested in your success who can cheer you on, offer encouragement, and above all – give you the experience and skills you need to be successful?

I have been building my business in a community of like-minded business owners ever since I started building my current business. It’s supportive, fun and above all, effective in helping you get to your destination faster. The side benefits of keeping your spirits up can’t be downplayed either.

4. Set time aside

The biggest thing I had to do to make this weekend happen was set time aside to do it. It’s never a good time. When I booked the weekend I had nothing else scheduled. By the time I got to it, I had family visiting from out of town, kids needing something, work deadlines had materialized and a bevy of social engagements had emerged to keep me busy if I had stayed in the city and not attended the course. But I had booked it. I had paid for it. And I was committed. I had set the time aside to do it – just as happens within a Mastermind environment.

When you enroll in a business mastermind, you commit the time – often on a bi-weekly basis – to focus on building your business and learning from your peers. If you didn’t have this time set aside, would you do it? Probably not. It keeps you accountable, focused, and goal-oriented.

5. Invest in the right tools

While I may not have purchased the most expensive bike in the store, I did purchase one that was slightly beyond my current skillset and made my ride more enjoyable because I was on it. The same goes for investing in your business.

Are you in this business for the long haul or just for a short season? If you want a multi-year return on your business, invest with the end in mind. Invest in the right tools, the right people and the right structures to set you up for success. You won’t regret it. You’ll only regret it if you don’t think far enough ahead.

6. The time is now

Age. Yes. None of us are getting any younger. I was the eldest in this mountain biking camp by far. I could have birthed most of the other participants. But it didn’t matter. They respected me because I was going for it.

No matter my age, we were at the same level in terms of skill, and I have my eyes on the prize of many years of mountain biking enjoyment ahead of me. How about you? Is it time to start learning how to grow this business of yours once and for all, or are you throwing in the towel now? You get to decide. It’s now or never.

So, if you are thinking about learning how to ride a mountain bike, learn to do any sport or skill, or finally get that business of yours off the ground, when are you starting? If not now, when? Is it now, or is it never? As I approach the close of another decade, I find myself asking this question over and over. Is it now, or is it never? And quite frankly, I answer almost every question with: The time is now. Let’s bring it on!

Now, while I don’t see myself as being that skilled individual to bring you to the next level in mountain biking, I do know I can serve those emerging entrepreneurs with the skills they need to get lift off and bring structure to their business. This fall I am launching The Accelerate Mastermind program for those service-based entrepreneurs who are still fairly new in the world of entrepreneurship.

This program is for relatively new business owners who have been working on creating their new business and are starting to get into the operations of it. If you have been in business for five years or less and are looking for the structure and the support to “just keep going” in a small (eight person) group environment, led by a skilled coach and mentor, then The Accelerate Mastermind is for you.

Message me to learn more. Details and registration links will be here on my website very soon. I’d love to support you on your business-building journey. Together we will celebrate your successes, develop new skills, and build community as you grow your new business and design your business lifestyle with more ease, skill and confidence than if you were to go it alone.

Join me? I can’t wait to hear from you.

To your success, in business and in life,

Susan Elford

P.S. Not quite ready for a Mastermind and still trying to figure out what your business is about and how to market it? I have a program for that too. It’s an eight-part webinar series called “Accelerate! With your Personal Business Equation.” It gets you marketing ready and helps you design a business that fits your life. Cultivating new entrepreneurs is one of the things I love to do most. I invite you to join my community to gain the support, skill and structure you need to get you to the next level.

P.P.S. If this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life or in your career, and you’re looking for more CLARITY about what’s next so you can be SUCCESSFUL in your career or your business, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Strategy Session. We will get you well on your way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes so you can balance it all and feel fulfilled in your life and in your work.

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