Running a Business is like Riding a Bike

Running a Business is like Riding a Bike

I recently went on a “Stop Crashing for Beginners” Mountain Biking course. I’d been out with a group of friends and had to get off and push when others rode on through. Strength and stamina didn’t help here. I lacked the skill.

The course was run by Ed Oxley who taught me how to position myself when descending a steep slope. Importantly this meant I wasn’t about to be propelled over my handlebars.
Martyn Hodgson mountain biking

He also explained how to pump the bike when getting up and over obstacles. Sadly I didn’t master this, sitting on my seat too much. I ended up rolling back down the hill.

Getting my weight right when swinging round bends was another skill we covered. I was particularly keen to get this right. There were a lot of trees I could’ve been wrapped around.

There were a few underlying themes Ed kept repeating through the day. It occurred to me that running a business is like riding a bike.

Ed Oxley

always look where you’re aiming for

Look Ahead

His key message was don’t look where I am – always look where I’m aiming for. Keep my chin up leading towards the end point.

In business you need a game plan so you can operate in a proactive way, not reacting to the obstacles as they present themselves.

Slower Often Gets Better Results

Some of the guys zoomed down the trail and kept having to brake. But they didn’t get down any quicker than me. The trick was to slow down into the corners then accelerate out of them.

Rushing to get an answer will get results on time. But would spending a little more time yield a better longer term result?

commit yourself fully and follow it through

Be Committed

Once I’d decided on my route, I committed myself fully and followed it through to the end point. Changing my mind half way through a tricky descent and braking dramatically nearly ended me up in a heap at the bottom.

If you decide on a business plan, get fully behind it, champion it and dispel any nagging doubts

Remain Calm and Relaxed

I was riding my bike in a stiff position and gripping the handlebars tightly… and kept crashing. I tried to go with the flow but its easier said than done. I wondered if I was trying too hard.

We’re all under pressure and anxious about our businesses. Despite this you’ve got to relax. This comes when the other factors are in place like looking ahead, not rushing and being committed.

Don’t Blame the Equipment

I question and blame my equipment when I can’t ride a section of a route. I may even go and buy more shiny kit. Deep down I know it’s because I don’t have the skill but that doesn’t make me feel any better!

If a business isn’t making progress, does the MD have the necessary skills or is he expecting too much from his staff who don’t have the skills either?

I’m not now suddenly an Expert

After completing the course, I took my bike up the nearby Wessenden valley expecting to be able to ride 3 tricky sections. I failed on 2 and snapped the chain on the 3rd. That brought me down to earth. Literally.

Reading up on subjects on the internet makes many of us think we’re experts. My wife & I founded Physiobench, an online physiotherapy practice. Whilst I have a broad knowledge and can talk a good game about injuries to friends I soon get shown up as a fraud by our pool of physios with years of experience.


The skills I learnt on the course are very similar to those when I learnt to ski, kayak and orienteer. In all cases it was teaching me to use my skills to get from start to finish as quickly as possible. It’s why I figured running a business is like riding a bike.

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