3 Things an Off-Road Race Can Teach You about Being an Entrepreneur
What would you do if you had the chance to race through the desert in the passenger seat of an unlimited class utility vehicle (UTV)? If you're like Dr. Michael Buffington, you put in the work, strap yourself into the passenger seat and watch as the competition gets left behind.
This year, Buffington joined his friend and wealth strategist, Michael Isom, for the Mint 400 Off-Road Race, a 330-mile off-road journey through the wilds of Nevada. Usually, Buffington is hard at work as a chiropractor, coaching other practices in leadership, philosophy and self-development. And Isom is usually right there with him, offering the insight and strategies he needs to set his financial course. Together in Mint 400, though, they realized that off-roading has many lessons for the rising entrepreneur. Here are three.
1. Trust your copilot.
During the Mint 400, Buffington was anything but an idle passenger. While Isom took care of actually driving the UTV, Buffington was responsible for monitoring gauges, belts, temperatures, speed, obstacles and even oncoming traffic. It was his job to make sure everything functioned the way it was supposed to. When you're driving at top speeds through rough terrain, even a small problem can be costly.
Your financial legacy needs just as much attention as your car's fuel gauge and speedometer. You need to be actively monitoring your cash flow and reporting new information related to your budget or business changes. Don't waste your time trying to do everything; even if you consider yourself a financial wizard, only 2 percent of the population can multitask without their work deteriorating, and you need to focus on running your business. Like Buffington, you need to find a copilot you can trust to consistently and competently monitor your finances, advising you to needs before they arise so you can plan accordingly.
2. Keep an eye on the road ahead.
Besides monitoring the vehicle's vitals, Buffington helped with navigation. A driver can only see as far as the next turn; the navigator, with the map and GPS, can see beyond that turn and the turn after that, all the way to the finish line. He helps the driver watch out for potential obstacles -- the drops and the rises -- and help chart a course around it.
Though Buffington served as navigator in the race, that's usually Isom's job. A wealth strategist does the same forecasting for his clients, alerting them to trends, advising them on new opportunities and even encouraging them to push the gas or -- crucially -- pump the breaks. In a study by the Harvard Business Review, companies "that paused at key moments to make sure they were on the right track" outperformed other firms with 40 percent higher sales and 52 percent higher operating profits. Your strategist is specially trained to recognize these key moments and help you to do the same.
Further, with a wealth strategist's help, you can better identify the investments that will prepare your business for the turns to come: All of these could be the strategies you need but can't recognize as you see only the landscape in front of you. A wealth strategist, however, benefits from seeing the whole picture.
3. Love what you do.
"I've always liked racing," Buffington says. "I've done a little motorcycle, short track stuff. I'm a big NASCAR fan, and I've done a lot of events and ride along scenarios." Even for an enthusiast, though, the Mint 400 is no pleasure cruise. At 300 miles in roughly eight hours, the race still surprised Buffington by the physical toll it took on his body. Add in the fact they couldn't stop except to change a flat tire -- which, by the way, they had to do four times -- and the race is a trial of both body and mind. Fortunately, both Buffington and Isom were determined and eager for the sport, so the eight-hour drive wasn't a chore -- it was a challenge.
You need to feel the same way about your work. "That energy will keep you going when the tasks are unpleasant, the money isn't coming in and your physical energy has left the building," says Dixie Gillaspie, senior managing editor for The Good Man Project. "It can be the one thing that earns the trust of your employees and customers. It will fuel your business when the economy gets tight and the competition gets fierce. Without energy . . . you're toast."
Buffington and Isom ultimately took 12th place, which is no small feat when you're racing against hundreds. The lessons they took away are sure to not only improve their future driving but their business as well. Next time you go for a drive, take time to think how trust, foresight and passion can change your work. Keep your eyes on the road, and you'll make it in no time.