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How to Beat a Super Car in a Race

An awkward admission: I watch too much streaming video. Even more now that we’re under a “stay at home” directive from our state’s governor.

A second awkward admission: One of my favorite categories are the car shows.

And that brings me to the subject of the Netflix series, Fastest Car, and the lessons the show holds for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

So, I’m going to talk about that. The last few blog posts covered COVID-19 issues. I figure it’s okay to start thinking about what we do when the storm passes and we all work to hit the gas and either restart or bring up our businesses back up to full speed.

The Fastest Cars Series Concept

The format of the Fastest Cars series is simple. Four cars race on a quarter mile track. A drag race, in other words.

One of the cars? A super car costing, often, hundreds of thousands of dollars. A Lamborghini. Or a Ferrari. Or a McLaren.

The other three cars? Well, usually, the owner buys an old car or truck for a few hundred bucks and then invests gobs of time, money and talent turning that vehicle into a rocket.

And here, if you’re worried about me spoiling the show’s surprises, you want to stop reading.

Spoiler Alert: Read No Further If You May Watch Show

Probably, you can guess what I’m about to say next…

You can’t predict who wins a given race. In other words, the guy with the $300,000 supercar? The car with the V-12, 600 horsepower engine?

Yeah, he may get beat by the guy racing in a twenty-year-old econobox he’s rebuilt in his garage.

Car folk probably like the show because it’s so fun to see the cars, especially the garage-built racers.

But you know what? I think small business owners can take actionable insights from the show’s stories.

Insight #1: Segmentation Works

A first actionable insight?

This: If you’re going to compete against a giant company with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on research and manufacturing, compete in a narrow niche. And then optimize for that niche.

The garage-built racers optimize for one situation: A quarter mile drag race.

The super car manufacturers, well, they build these beautiful cars. Sure. Their vehicles deliver astonishing performance. In a bunch of situations. Including a quarter-mile drag race.

Because the garage-built racers focus on a single situation, however, they can often beat the super car in that single situation.

And then how this applies to a small business? Well, if you can optimize for a niche, you can probably (possibly?) beat some bigger competitor within that niche.

Insight #2: The Team Matters

Another insight: After binge-watching two seasons of Fastest Cars, I will confidently say that the team someone assembles matters. And a lot.

The racers who assemble small teams of hardcore car mechanics and racing enthusiasts? These guys perform really well.

Small businesses struggle to do this team building. But a team of strong players, who work well together? Yeah, that seems to be strongly correlated with racing success.

A reminder at this point: Remember I provided that earlier spoiler alert…

Insight #3: Driver Skill Matters

One final actionable insight to suggest: Driver skill matters a lot.

So, just to say this, someone who goes out and spends more on a car than most people spend on a home?

That person may think the giant engine, sophisticated traction control and computer-controlled launch modes make a difference.

But driver skill matters. And driver skill often levels the playing field against someone competing on the basis of their bank account.

And so the small business lesson I think we take away from this observation? The skill and experience you and your team possess can let you compete. Even against rich competitors working with all the latest and most expensive technology.

Hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. And do start thinking about what you do when the storm ends.

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