It’s Tour de France season again. My DVR is humming at 4 a.m. most days. Evening hours are disappearing as I attempt to squeeze in hours of bike racing in the small tidbits of time that remain after work, kids, housework, and exercise. But watching these amazing athletes operating at peak form – sometimes succeeding, sometimes having to abandon in excruciating pain – got me thinking about the ways that this extreme sport and resembles running a consulting business in Silicon Valley.
1. You have to start the race in peak form.
After all, the service you’re offering is you. Prospective clients are looking for someone whose skills are sharp and who has the mental fitness to start every project at sprinting pace.
2. Consistency is of the essence.
Just as with 21 long stages of racing, you can’t just shine on one project or in one market. Clients need to be able to count on a quality product every time they call on you, and as they themselves move from job to job,
3. The peleton is moving at an incredible speed.
There are a few pockets of calm and sanity in Silicon Valley, but most companies move at the speed of 100 guys drafting off each other down a French country road, sometimes with the Mistral at their backs. Consultants have the added complication of jumping back and forth between multiple pelotons going slightly different directions and with slightly different rules of the road. You had better be ready to sprint hard, eat lunch while riding 70 kilometers per hour (sorry, Contador), and leave everything on the road.
4. Crashes can happen at any time.
Life in Silicon Valley companies isn’t predictable. Reorgs hit; acquisitions happen; and funding doesn’t materialize when it’s supposed to. As a consultant, you have to keep both eyes on the course and keep the bike moving no matter what affects it.
5. When you’re climbing the mountain, you sure can’t afford to crack.
It’s uncanny how everyone needs your services at the same time. You need fitness, stamina, and lots of determination. Without all of those three, your business will suffer or your family will (or both).
5. The scenery is awesome.
It’s absolutely breathtaking to ride against the backdrop of some of the fastest innovation that the world has ever seen. And consultants are in a position to see the forest through the trees.
So back on the bike!!!