How entrepreneurship is like riding a motorcycle

Do you believe entrepreneurship can be learned? Or do you believe the only way to learn how to run a business is to get out there and learn from the school of hard knocks?

At GoForth Institute, we fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. We believe that vital small business skills can be learned first and practiced second. This takes me back to the days of wanting to learn to ride a motorcycle. Growing up with older brothers who were into anything with wheels, I had the opportunity to ride motorcycles as a passenger, or “two up” as we say, but never as the operator. I was about 35 with children of my own when I decided it was time to take my rightful place behind the throttle. Those of you in the learn-by-doing category would say, “Hey, just hop on. You’ll figure it out. After a couple of crashes, you’ll learn what not to do.” Those of you in the learn-by-education category would suggest a class on safe motorcycling first, correct?

I believe in reducing risk – the risk that my sons would grow up without their mom. Off I went to motorcycle school – a one week intensive classroom and parking lot skills training program. Got my license, bought a small Honda 250 Rebel and starting practicing my new skills on my new bike in my neighbourhood. Starting, stopping, turning, signalling, shifting, braking, emergency braking – all manoeuvres that were new to me. My instructor told me to practice these skills 80 times each – correctly. That’s the point at which muscle memory takes over. She told us you won’t have time to think on a motorcycle in an emergency. The difference between life and death is the rider’s muscle memory. I put 3,500kms on my Honda before I left the neighbourhood. Obsessive? Maybe. After several years of cautious city riding and practice in parking lots, it was back to school with a new, more powerful motorcycle – but this time it was race school. Fast forward 12 years, I still ride and my husband and one of our sons rides too. It’s a great family activity and a great way for me to leave the stress of entrepreneurship behind for an hour or so.

Learning to run a business can be the same. Take the time to learn the skills that will keep you alive out there – practice them in a safe environment before you take them to the streets. Take some small business training, learn to apply those skills, and take more training as your skills improve and you want to take your business to the next level. Don’t forget your helmet and enjoy the ride!

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