Entrepreneurs and The Amazing Race

Larry Rottmeyer, PhD, Director of Innovation Education, The NIIC
Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash.com

Popular reality television series The Amazing Race recently concluded season 32. Each race begins with 11 teams of two players. They embark on a race around the world. During each leg of the race, teams complete challenges to qualify to advance to the race’s next leg. Challenges are a blend of mental and physical tasks that are linked to local cultures and customs. The last team to arrive at a specific stage destination faces potential elimination from the race.

Each episode is filmed at a different location and exudes excitement, tension, mistakes, skills, and adventure. This is similar to what business builders experience in their new ventures. Here are a few reflections to consider:

  1. Energy is essential. Each leg of the race requires much energy to complete various tasks and advance to its next leg. Similarly, entrepreneurs must bring considerable energy and passion to their roles in building startups.
  2. Expect the unexpected. Every week, The Amazing Race teams travel to new destinations and encounter creative, difficult challenges. Their days are filled with surprises. They must prepare for the uncertain. Startup leaders can expect surprises in launching new businesses.
  3. Be prepared for failures. Teams on The Amazing Race often struggle to complete difficult tasks. Mistakes and failures frequently happen during life’s experiences. Building a startup business will bring many missteps, some larger than others. Entrepreneurial wisdom says to expect failures.
  4. Resilience is key. If a challenge is difficult and complicated, it takes perseverance. Business building is hard work and takes lots of stamina. Successful entrepreneurs are often the best overcomers. They are resilient.
  5. Competition is fierce. Like The Amazing Race participants, entrepreneurs should expect intense competition from both direct and indirect competitors. Even the newest ideas or ventures compete for limited dollars, distracted customers, and unrecognized market needs.
  6. Look for strong teammates. Rarely does a team win on the strength of one player. This is true in any team sport. Strong teammates possess complementary skills that improve the whole team. Entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with talented, skilled, and experienced players who will make them better – and their businesses stronger.
  7. Read the clues. A vital key to successful navigation of the race is to read the clues offered along the journey. The clues must be read carefully, often taking several readings and additional thought. Likewise, business builders should be ever mindful of clues to future decisions and potential pitfalls. Business clues come in many forms – feedback, missed opportunities, financial projections, stalled investments, and many more. Savvy entrepreneurs look for hints along the way.
  8. Think things through. It is interesting to watch teams on The Amazing Race think through the various challenges and what needs to happen to complete their assigned tasks. They vary significantly in their processing skills and strategy decisions. Similarly, entrepreneurs need to consider past choices, present circumstances, and future strategies. Taking time to think is one of the essential needs of any startup business builder.
  9. Leverage your strengths. Race participants appear to recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Using your strengths can be one of your greatest assets in building a successful business venture. Winning teams put the right people in the right positions. If the needed strengths are lacking in a startup, develop them, or find them in others. Otherwise, missing skills and talents can become your missing link to success and sustainability.
  10. Not everyone finishes first. There is only one winning team at the end of the race. There are smaller wins along the way for a few teams, but many teams never win a race stage, much less the overall race. Similarly, most successful entrepreneurs do not finish first. They don’t build the largest firms or generate millions in annual revenues. But, participation in the adventures of creating a new venture is often enough – it’s fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding. What does “finishing first” really mean to you?

Do you want some guidance with your startup efforts? Partner with The NIIC. Consider adding our NIIC Navigator® Online Toolset to your experiences in your business builder adventure. NIIC Navigator offers a learning management system and an academy. Learn more by visiting our website or contact us.


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