Business and Cycling… it is the same

BLAISE COSTABIR draws a parallel between his two passions – cycling and running a business

Early one Sunday morning, I found myself enjoying the rolling verdant hills around Morpilla, South Goa, en route to Cabo de Ram Fort. My mind naturally made a connection between the bicycle and business; after all I was a businessman on a bicycle. As a kid, cycling was a means of transport. I proudly belonged to a group known as the ‘Bicycle Gang’. The Raleigh Racer was stolen and that ended my cycling in 1984. Circa 2019, my better half gifted me a cycle and I joined the, ‘Xaxti Riders’ in July 2019; and that initiated my tryst with cycling again.

EQUIPMENT: Cycling had changed in the intervening years. I could no longer hop on and ride. I needed cycling gear, helmet, lights, special clothing. Earlier, I had a single speed and today, 27 gears! Initially, it was hard and the single speed felt easier and less complicated, but once one got to the climbs and understood gearing, it was a lot more efficient and made cycling a pleasure. Equipment surely made a difference. It is the same for business; we need the right equipment to enable us to deliver the right quality to our customer. There is no doubt that you can make a machined part on a conventional lathe, but if you have to make many then a CNC machine would be faster, cheaper and offer consistent quality. To meet customer demand where quality cost and delivery matter today, a CNC it will have to be.

DECISION MAKING: Anyone can advise me on how to ride, but the proof of the pudding is in eating. I have to get on and either ride or fall. I am, ‘on my own’. Every decision taken has consequences, press the front brake hard and I will jackknife over. I have to be, ‘alert’ for possible obstacles while moving at the best speed possible. I have to ‘network’ to seek information on terrain, bike and help when needed. I have to be, ‘disciplined’ and follow the rules to stay safe, so I can ride another day. In a way cycling teaches me to work better, which makes business sense.

Is business any different? You can hire the best consultants, but at the end of the day it is the decisions that you take that will make or break your company. Clearly you have to remember, lonely is the head that wears the crown, you are on your own.

FUND MANAGEMENT: Over a long distance, proper breathing plays a big role in ensuring that you are able to keep your heart rate under control and achieve the elevations and speed required to keep going. We can try shallow breaths/panting and realise you are not going to make it, or we can take proper breaths, two counts in and three counts out, and find out that it helps a lot. This can be likened to funding a business to enable you to make the long haul. Very often in business, we tend to treat suppliers as a source of cheap funds. Yes, it is deceptive because it can turn expensive when in crunch situations your supplier prefers to deliver to better paying customers. Also because you do not pay in time, you will usually attract a not so good supplier which again defeats the purpose. Paying your bankers on time is another sure way of staying in the game longer. So it is better to display financial discipline and ensure that you are playing for the long haul.

BALANCED SCORECARD: When we think about a business, we see different departments working together to deliver results. It is the same when cycling. Most feel only legs work but that is not true, eyes have to see obstacles, hands have to manoeuvre, the brain has to decide the course of action which is safe; and your back muscles have to balance. It is perfect coordination that plays a key role in keeping you upright on a cycle. In business, coordination between departments – marketing, production, finance or personnel will ensure that your business is on an even keel. So, when I cycle, the investment made in cycling pays off, in terms of fitness/immunity, spend less on a doctor, see the beautiful views, meet many people and finally I am actually training myself to be a ‘healthier businessman’. For a business to remain healthy it needs healthy people to run it. So I do hope every businessman will ‘cycle’ or get some form of exercise. Ride on.

The columnist is a first-generation entrepreneur whose company manufactures ‘Shakti’ water tanks.

Mobile Ad 1

Mobile Ad 2