My teenage years were not like most. I was an Enduro motorcycle racer, an off-road competitor conquering difficult terrains and trails, motivated to compete and win one of the most invigorating and fulfilling forms of motorcycle sports. This fueled my passion for the motorsports lifestyle.
While still in high school and competing, I was employed with a local motorcycle dealership in Ohio where I worked 10-hour days, prepared for competitions, and continued my school work. I knew then that my passion would become my career.
|“Make your passion your career.” – Scott Fischer|
Entrepreneurism is a spirit that can fill a leader at any time. For me, it was in 1979. As a general manager, I attended what we call in our industry “20 Clubs”. A 20 Club is a group of high-performing dealership operators who congregate to review data, share best practices and make commitments to achieve lofty goals set.
While at the 20 Clubs, I was exposed to successful motorcycle enthusiasts like me who had become entrepreneurs and dreamt big. I was introduced to data and how it influences success. I knew then that I could own my own business and become one of the best dealership operators in the world. Little did I know that I would grow my enterprise to what it is today.
In 1990, my dream was realized. I became the owner of West Coast Kawasaki. My career became my passion.
Owning your own business can provide financial freedom, influence, and opportunities. When we focus on the right things, earning money is a result. With the right strategies, our money will work for us creating financial freedom. This freedom can create new opportunities for us, our businesses, and our teams and we must be ready to seize the moment. These opportunities create influence. Influence in direction, alignment, mentorship, new business, etc. As entrepreneurs, we must use our influence, opportunities and financial freedom wisely.
Entrepreneurship can also come with challenges. Looking back, my biggest challenge came in the form of time. Being a key leader comes at a cost. I tunneled everything into my work and the minutia at the expense of my family.
As entrepreneurs, we tend to devote all of our time, effort, and mindspace to establishing, growing, and scaling our businesses and forget to balance our families, rest, and recovery. I allowed my career to get in the way of spending precious time with my family that I cannot get back.
Two major things happened early in my career – I lost my parents and had my daughter. Realizing lost time, I changed the way I view entrepreneurship, leadership, and operating a business. Here are four things I wish I knew back then:
1. Protect Time
Time is our greatest depreciating asset. We cannot buy it, we cannot create it, we cannot go back, we cannot jump forward. However, we can protect time for what’s most important to us. Every one of us has the same 24 hours in a day yet our lifetimes are not promised. Therefore, we must decide who we want to be and protect adequate time.
If you want to be a great spouse, protect time to be a great spouse and spend time with your significant other. If you want to be a great parent, protect time to be a great parent and spend time with your children. If you want to be a great friend, protect time to be a great friend and spend time with your friends. If you want to be a great entrepreneur, protect time to be a great entrepreneur and spend time being a student of the business and advancing yourself and your business. If you want to be a great leader, protect time to lead your team well.
If I could go back, I’d start here. Protect time for what’s most important to you.
|“Protect time for what’s most important to you.” – Scott Fischer|
2. Be a Student of the Business
In the spirit of time, being a student of the business requires time. The time we invest in studying the future of our industries, sharpening our talents, and learning from others will change our trajectory and advance our timelines. We should never be the smartest person in the room. We must choose to move into another room and seek newer, better solutions.
Being a student of the business starts with patience and active listening. We must listen to those smarter than use and learn from their wins, insights and challenges. We must also be curious, engaged, and eager.
Invest in professional advisors. Contrary to most beliefs, this does not always mean hiring external specialized professional advisors. Advisors can come from within your current circle. Review your current advisors. For example, your CPA, financial advisor, and/or business coach. Review your staff – CFO, COO, HR, managers. Ask a friend or peer out for coffee. Ask thought-provoking questions, listen, take notes, and learn.
|“I don’t want to be the smartest man in the room, I want to be the richest man in the room! The only way to accomplish this is by listening and learning from others.” – Scott Fischer|
3. Find a Mentor
As entrepreneurs, we are tough on ourselves and are our own worst critics. It’s important to align with a mentor who will spend consistent undistracted time with us. We must be vulnerable, share our challenges, and be open to constructive feedback. This experienced trusted advisor will assist in navigating and finding solutions to challenges.
When seeking a mentor, I recommend looking for someone who is 3-5 years ahead and who genuinely loves the role of being a mentor and is willing to share their victories, learnings, and failures to help you learn and advance. Communicational leadership is an important factor when choosing the right mentor-mentee relationship.
In addition to a few hand-selected mentors, surround yourself with smart people. The further you advance along your success path, the more of your success will come from those you’ve surrounded yourself with, including your team. The more successful you become, the more important it is to help your team advance. Invest in your team.
|“The further you advance along your success path, the more of your success will come from those you’ve sounded yourself with. Invest in your team!” – Scott Fischer|
4. Start with the Exit In Mind
No matter where you are in your career, determine the perfect exit. Is your ultimate goal to sell your empire and retire? Do you want to create a family business that is operated by generation after generation? Is your goal to create an employee-owned business to support the futures of those who serve you? Start with the exit in mind.
As entrepreneurs, we must have a clear understanding of what we wish to accomplish so we can be intentional with our strategies, direction, and decisions.
As I began my exit planning, I found an estate attorney and defined my perfect exit, timeline, and key milestones. I recommend designing a timeframe for your exit, but note that this doesn’t mean you have to leave your business. However, if you don’t establish your exit, you’ll never leave. You deserve to reap the rewards from your hard work and dedication.
|“No matter where you are in your career, dream and design your perfect exit.” – Scott Fischer|
We cannot change the past or buy back time already spent, but we can make changes today and influence our future. I recommend implementing these four tactics to become the leader you were meant to be. Protect the time most important to you. Be a student of the business. Find a mentor. Start with the exit in mind.
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