What do g-forces, race cars and an overall need for speed have to do with business?
“EVERYTHING!” according to Chris Grigalunas, owner of Azul Motorsports.
Like race cars, small businesses must be lean, agile, equipped with quality parts, and checked regularly for maintenance to ensure high performance and speed.
It’s through this analogy that my interest in how Chris built his company piqued. Following an appearance on his Driving Business Faster radio show on the Pro Business Channel network, I asked if I could in turn interview him.
Thankfully Chris agreed. He made it clear, though, that the best way for me to understand his business, how it works and its value proposition, I’d have to experience it firsthand.
And that’s how my first race car ride experience happened.
Buckled in, teeth clinched, and adrenaline pumping, I became Chris’ anxious, yet excited passenger as he drove at speeds up to 140 mph. At this speed, it was clear that I would not be able to conduct a traditional interview, but we were able to talk immediately before and after the ride-along.
Following are 8 key lessons and tips based on that interview. The intent is to inspire you and perhaps offer a unique perspective to fuel your company’s growth.
Lesson 1: Success (and Growth) Look Different for Different Businesses
Whereas we at Equilibria define fast growth by symptoms, Chris Grigalunas defines fast growth graphically as “Trending in the correct direction. Accelerated growth; a curve instead of a line on a chart. Exponential instead of linear.”
As entrepreneurs, we’re all different so it makes sense that our respective definitions of success and growth might also be different.
Chris Grigalunas discovers this difference daily not only with his clients, but also with his guests on his Driving Business Faster radio show where each guest is asked a series of questions, including, “how do you drive your business faster?”
It was only fitting that I ask Chris how he drives his business faster? He responded, “At this moment in time hiring help to scale and expand using the franchise prototype method one position/job function at a time. Also, exploring what partnerships/businesses/people to align Azul Motorsports with and best use of business development time/resources.”
Franchising is one of many ways businesses grow. Acquisitions, mergers and spin-offs are other ways. When prompted to elaborate on franchising Azul Motorsports, Chris replied, “Great question! [I’m] not 100% sure right now. Possibly franchise and licensing. [I] would like to get to the point where I only drive the cars, make appearances, and develop employees instead of doing almost everything.”
Lesson 2: Business Infrastructure is Key to Driving Business Faster
Hearing Chris’ goal to focus more on client-facing and business development activities reminded me of our video introducing our business infrastructure methodology, KasennuTM (formerly KlonosTM). This video begins by confirming “…when you start a business you wear many hats…”
While many entrepreneurs strive for growing, thriving businesses, Chris admits there can be negative implications of fast growth. In particular, there “…can be some growing pains, especially if the infrastructure isn’t there to support it.”
It’s reassuring to know Chris agrees that business infrastructure is necessary for building the foundation to support growth, especially fast growth and to transition those different hats you’re wearing to other, well-qualified people.
To that extent, business infrastructure also provides a structured, sustainable and repeatable way to identify critical tasks to perform and to document front and back office systems and processes so they are easier to hand-off.
When asked how business infrastructure enables him to sustain Azul Motorsports’ fast growth, Chris replied, “[We] have a team of professional instructors we can contract for larger events. [We’re] currently working on implementing platforms/systems to help further enable the back office infrastructure. [We’re] using Google Docs and spreadsheets for many things today. [I’m] looking to get on an integrated system in the future once things streamline and settle down a little bit.”
Lesson 3: Managing Growth is a Balancing Act
It can be tempting to rev up all gears of your business and go, go, go! However, too much growth without proper planning can yield devastating results. It’s one thing to create business infrastructure in your business; it’s quite another to maintain it.
Maintenance requires a careful balance of resources such as time, people and technology. When growth comes in spurts, it’s easy to get off track and sacrifice quality for speed. As Chris points out, “Sometimes [you] have to pump the brakes to get back on track.”
Getting back on track can be a challenge especially when you consider the “Good, Fast or Cheap” rule where you can only pick two out of the three. Chris chooses “Good and fast…not cheap. Look for the best value which usually isn’t the cheapest option.”
Another complicated decision many of us have to make is choosing whether to solely become an Entrepreneur, Manager or Technician in your business. In his book, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber explains that most small business owners start out being Technicians in their businesses and thus have created another glorified job for themselves. And though you may initially be able to perform all 3 roles, it certainly will not be sustainable during growth spurts.
It takes courage to let go and allow others to come in and do the work that you don’t want to do, don’t have the time to do, or have simply reached your full potential in.
Lesson 4: Team Building is Fundamental to Success
Though we may differ on how we define growth, I think it’s safe to say we can all agree on the importance of building a diverse team of smart and supportive people. After all, employees can make or break a company.
It’s in this vein that Chris developed Azul Motorsports’ services around team building. As Chris describes it, “Unlike bowling and going out to eat, race car driving
is a unique and memorable experience that your team members will always appreciate and remember.” The race car track offers a platform for team building on “neutral ground.”
In preparation for company events at the race track, Azul Motorsports coordinates a DiSC assessment of the people from the company who will participate in an event. The results are shared while at the track and provide a natural segue for understanding your team’s dynamics during various team building exercises at the race track. The idea is that, equipped with this information, you and your team can go back to work with a renewed sense of how to communicate with each other and increase the effectiveness of the overall team.
Additional Tips for Driving Business Faster
- Plan. Write or type the activities that need to be done.
- Prioritize. Determine which of those activities is mission critical for the day.
- Focus. Carve out 30-60 minute increments of time throughout the day to complete these activities. Power off your phone, email, texting, etc. during this time.
- Reap the Rewards. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and accomplishments!
Perhaps the most poignant, memorable lesson I learned (and a subsequent tip for you) following my race car experience is the importance of concentrating vs. diluting your efforts. When you’re in a race car, there’s no time for texting, daydreaming, or even talking for that matter. If you don’t focus on the road, then you can cause an accident.
Imagine what could happen if we each carved out some time every day to concentrate our efforts in growing our business instead of diluting our efforts by multi-tasking and engaging in non-value add/non-revenue generating activities.
Build a business rooted in your passion, fueled by the adrenaline that only entrepreneurship can provide. This is what Chris Grigalunas has done and it’s working well for him!
Learn more about how your company can benefit from Azul Motorsports’ race car services.
Watch (and listen to) how much fun we had when Chris interviewed me on his radio show.
Change and evolution are happening at a rapid rate. Stay focused and enjoy the ride of your entrepreneurial journey!
As always, share your story with our community by leaving a comment below or contact us directly so we can feature you in a future article!