Entrepreneurs in Motorsports
Bill France, Sr.
Bill France, Sr. is a legend in Motorsports and NASCAR. Not only was he a stock car driver, he co-founded NASCAR – the sanctioning body of stock car racing.
His is a story of the Great American Dream – a rags to riches tale. He was the son of William Henry France and Emma Graham, an Irish immigrant. As a young man, he worked and saved enough to open his own gas and service station. He was a hard worker, who woke at dawn to hand-crank his customers’ cars.
When the Depression hit, France moved his family from Washington D.C. to Daytona Florida. He worked in a car dealership and set up an automotive repair shop. In 1938 France took over the management of the Daytona racetrack, which had lost its luster and its racers. After WWII, France stopped driving and focused on race promotion.
In the late 1940s stock car racing was gaining national popularity, but it was facing many problems and issues like inconsistencies in rules and unethical promoters. France had the dream of creating a group to manage stock car racing and to provide directions and rules in an effort to create a regulated industry. He convinced a group of drivers, mechanics and car owners to establish NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) on February 21, 1948.
This began as an American family-owned small business venture, and is now motorsport’s preeminent stock car racing organization. A few years later, France recognized the need for a permanent racing track, and he proposed Daytona International Speedway to host stock car events. To fund that effort, France mortgaged his home, borrowed money from friends, build a partnership with Pepsi, and sold shares of stock. Daytona was a huge success, and the Daytona 500 became a legendary event in racing.
But France wasn't done – entrepreneurs never stop.
Ten years after Daytona, France started building Talladega Superspeedway. He even set the first race date before construction on the track even began. Even Mother Nature cannot stop a headstrong entrepreneur. A month before the first Talladega race, Hurricane Camille stopped construction, and many of the leading drivers refused to race. France even drove laps on the track to prove it was safe, but the drivers pulled out of the race – all but Richard Petty. The rest is history. 62,000 fans came to watch the inaugural race with Petty.
In 1972, France turned over the reigns to the family business to his son, Bill France, Jr. who in 2003 turned the business over to his son, Bill France.
Bill France, Sr. is a quintessential American entrepreneur. And you can be, too. Don’t let fear of failure prevent you from acting on your dreams.
Successful Entrepreneurs have to...
Have good time management skills
Push past fears
Focus on strengths not weaknesses
Handle rejection well
Be willing to accept setbacks, challenges, and failures
Make work fun
Learn how to form healthy relationships
Surround themselves with mentors and people smarter than them
How many characteristics from the above list sound like you?
Entrepreneurship is a solution to market gaps.
Have you ever wanted or needed a product or service, and found out that it doesn’t exist? The absence of that product or service is a market gap- a need in the market that isn’t being filled or addressed.
Entrepreneurs use their interests, talents, skills and experiences to shape their business ideas into products and services that can be sold to meet fulfill customers’ wants or needs.
If there’s a product or service you want, but can’t find, why not become an entrepreneur and sell it yourself?
Your business could be the solution to a market gap!
Risk vs Reward
There are both risks and rewards to starting your own business. Here are some basic examples.
LOSE FREE TIME
CAN BE EXPENSIVE
SOMETHING YOU LOVE
PICK WORK HOURS
GAIN SELF CONFIDENCE
MEET NEW PEOPLE
Risk is inevitable for all business owners, and while you can’t eliminate all risk, there are some things you can do to minimize it and increase your chances of enjoying the rewards. When starting your own company, it's important to consider how you might combat and embrace your own unique challenges. That's why a robust and well thought out business plan is the key to any successful venture.
More Automotive Entrepreneurs ...
Ken Block, co-founder DC Shoes/Hoonigan
Ken Block is a serial entrepreneur who built companies for the sports industry before he found success as a professional rally driver in 2005.
Block co-founded DC shoes in his garage – DC quickly became a standard in apparel for skateboarders and snowboarders. He sold DC Shoes for $87M in 2004.
The next year Block became a driver and competed in the World Rally Championship.
Since he had a strong business sense, and great marketing skills, Block was able to leverage social media to promote his brand, his career, and start the now legendary auto racing team, Hoonigan, which also operates as an international auto apparel company.
Hoonigan's Racing boasts a roster ranging from world champion drifters to Baja 1000 winners.
Chris Green, founder USP Motorsports
Chris Green built and sold $60 speaker boxes from his mother’s garage. Now he owns a repair shop specializing in high-performance cars, a retail store, and an e-commerce business for selling car parts worldwide.
USP Motorsports is a multi-million dollar business.
The 35-year-old started the company when he was 18. He sold candy to make money before turning to selling $60 car speaker boxes he built himself out of the family’s garage while in high school.
By the time he graduated, Green had saved $5,000 and used it to rent 1,200 square foot space and incorporate USP Motorsports. The venture combined his interest in car audio with his love of fast cars.
Green says it was passion that fueled his drive to succeed. Over the next few years, Green began adding high-level repair services for these fast cars, and USP now empoys 20 people and has revenues in excess of $7M.
Green even began to make a name for himself drag racing cars around the country.
Amber Blonigan, founder Gi Motorsports
At the age of 25 with $30,000, Amber Blonigan created Gi Motorsports.
Amber ignored the negativity associated with women entrepreneurs in motorsports, grew the company to over $100,000 in sales within the first few months of business. For over a decade, Gi Motorsports has been the premiere European automotive maintenance and tuning shop in Los Angeles.
GI Motorsports is a tuning, repair, and maintenance company with a full concierge service. This is a place where customers can get everything done in one place. GI even helps people buy and sell their cars.
Amber received her entrepreneurial advice from a friend who said: “You know, you can do anything you want”. That was her life changing moment.
Why Small Businesses Fail
Businesses can fail for a number of reasons. Preparing for these potential pitfalls ahead of time may help you avoid them at later stages in your business cycle. A few of the more common reasons for business failure include:
Starting your business for the wrong reasons:
Being poorly motivated or misguided can contribute to poor decision-making. Make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons and that those reasons can sustain your self-motivation and support sound decision-making during difficult times.
A business owner’s skillset shouldn’t be limited to the product and/or service being provided, but should extend to include management of people, processes, profits and problems. This type of knowledge and experience takes time to acquire. A person doesn’t learn all of these things overnight. So, try not to worry if you don’t know it all right now. Just do your best to continuously improve at every opportunity.
Insufficient Capital & Financial Planning:
Money, money, money! While not all new businesses require tens of thousands of dollars to get going, money is required to stay in business. Having a well-founded financial strategy is important to securing sufficient capital.
Location, Location, Location:
Strategically choosing the best location for your business is key to its success. While some products or services can get away with being inconveniently located (i.e. because they are a luxury brand, because the location is a part of their brand, etc.), most businesses need to be located within an easy and convenient distance of your customers, but be creative and think big! A convenient distance doesn’t always mean close physical proximity. In today’s mobile environment, this also includes mobile and online businesses. A popular location doesn’t have to be in a expensive permanent location, but could be a vendor stall at a popular summer fair or weekend farmer’s market.
Lack of Planning:
An accomplished and resilient business owner is one who is prepared. While it’s impossible to conceive of everything that may go wrong or of every future need, it’s important to consider what is both likely to happen and possible, and then manage your resources accordingly. Asking questions, doing research, learning from other’s successes and mistakes and completing this course may help you determine where there’s a need for more comprehensive and detailed planning and preparation.
If you’ve experienced a rapid success in a short period of time or if you have a lot of great ideas that you’re eager to pursue, growing your business too soon can be enticing, but not necessarily the best idea. If you grow your business faster than you can afford to sustain it, you could put even a successful business at risk.
No Website or online presence, including social media:
Today’s technological world demands an online presence. Having a website and social media presence increases your business’s chances of getting noticed and increases your brand’s accessibility.