In the ultra-competitive world of modern motorsport where you are attempting to become a team or manufacturer driver and where everything is run on a commercial basis, it is important for you to be conducting your motorsport business in a professional, business like and effective manner... in fact, you need to be running your business as if you were a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). So to start with let’s look at the character requirements of a top CEO in the commercial world:
A CEO is comfortable making decisions – Taking the leadership role of your business will demand that you make tough calls from time to time… especially with yourself! It’s also important to consider the foreseeable (and sometimes unintended) consequences of a decision, and then at the end of the day you must live with the consequences of the choices you made.
A CEO considers both the near-term and the long-term – To attain sustainable and consistent success a good CEO keeps one foot firmly planted in the present, while facing the future with a sense of anticipation. Living in both the present and the future will help you meet challenges head-on while proactively creating opportunities in a world that is constantly changing.
A CEO surrounds himself with smart people and seeks out their advice – If society judges us by the company we keep, then the business world judges you by the people you associate with. No one person can have all the knowledge, experience, or even perspective to handle every business situation, benefit from others’ skill and experiences.
A CEO knows how to say “No” and regularly does so – Anytime you make a decision to say “Yes” to one thing, you’re saying “No” to something else. By saying “No” regularly, you’re ensuring that your priorities are set and you keep to them. This also means sometimes saying “No” to an existing commitment in order to pursue a goal of greater importance.
A CEO has the resilience to persevere through adversity – Every leader will face adversity. Perseverance and grit are critical. In times of adversity and change, you really discover who you are and what you’re made of and whether you have what it takes for the long term.
As CEO of your own motorsport business you are going to be responsible for both the ‘sporting’ performance of your business as well as the ‘commercial’ performance.
What are the ‘Sporting’ responsibilities of a motorsport CEO?
These are primarily related to your ‘product’… your driving:
You have to know your sport – You must know the performance requirements of your sport – what are all the facets of your sport on-track and off-track – when we start out we don’t know what we don’t know!
You have to know your performance goals – Once you know your sport, you will then know the level that you need to work at and the areas that really make a difference.
You have to know your market – You must know the competition in the driver market and where the opportunities are.
You have a product – Your driving skill, which is broken down into technical, mental and physical.
You have to develop that product (training/business plan) – Your training needs to be organised, structured, assessed and reviewed.
You have to market that product – You have to be able to communicate your ability and availability to teams/manufacturers.
What are the ‘Commercial’ responsibilities of a motorsport CEO?
Unfortunately, as many drivers have found out, just being quick is not enough when it comes to pursuing a professional career in motorsport. Motorsport requires considerable financial investment... and then some, if you are to become successful at a high level. If you don’t have support from family or friends your only choice is to become a motorsport entrepreneur. This is very daunting for most drivers as it requires a very different skill set from driving a racing, car and school never prepares us for the realities and challenges of the commercial world. But... if you are successful it is a very liberating experience... you no longer have to rely on anyone else to give you free drives or to lend you money, you no longer have to search around for cheap drives and one off’s, you are generating your own finance, you are learning valuable life skills and most importantly you can chose the direction of your career.
You have to know the financial requirements of your goals – Quite simply how much money will it take to achieve your goals over the short, medium and long term?
You have to know the commercial market for motorsport – What are and where are the commercial opportunities, what companies are attracted to the motorsport marketplace.
You have to really know your commercial customer – What problems can you solve for them and how can you add value.
You have to have a commercial business plan – How is this information going to be drawn together into a structured plan.
You need to know how you are going to market and sell this product – Door to door, personal contacts, social media, email, brochure, website, PR, etc.
You have to budget and account for your expenditure – No business will deal with someone who doesn’t know their numbers.