Monday, May 15, 2023

For a decade I dreamt of the day when Mike Reilly, the longtime voice of Ironman, would shout five of the sweetest words on the planet:


A few weeks after my 50th birthday, it finally happened.

On my long training journey to get there—not to mention the actual 140.6!—I often thought about business ideas and opportunities, which led me to create:


Bill Smith in a wetsuit, green swim cap, and goggles
Put in the training and practice time so that when race day comes, it's just like any other day.

In business, it’s much easier to grow and thrive if you have processes in place. I’d rather have our teams do one thing right 1,000 times as opposed to having to do 1,000 customized things one time. It’s repeatable and scalable.

Bill Smith running out of the water.
Starting too fast in the swim and bike will leave you depleted for the run.

Capital and cash flow are your business’ lifeblood. If you are continually spending your precious resources chasing the next shiny
object, you may not have enough left in the bank/tank when you really need it.

Bill Smith running in Los Angeles.
There will be pain along the way.

Assess if it’s something that will soon pass (a cramp) or requires a change in strategy (stress fracture). In business, economic and sales cycles ebb and flow. Identifying which cycles are merely short-term hiccups versus an industry shift for your product line can have a lasting impact on the direction your company is headed.

Bill Smith on rocky coast in a wetsuit.
Don't panic.

I went into the race in the best shape of my life… and then my day almost ended 10 minutes into the swim.

Funny things happen when you hit the starting line of a triathlon—adrenaline is pumping, your heart is racing, and when you’re getting kicked and jostled around in the water you can panic and have trouble catching your breath. It happened to me, and I thought of all the training, all the people I would let down. All of my dreams were vanishing right before me. And then I persevered—one stroke at a time. Mercifully, I was able to finally catch my breath. In business, when you panic you make hasty decisions without data to back them up. Take the time to analyze the situation. Assess the data that you’re receiving and then decide how to proceed. Control what’s in your control.

Bill Smith smiling, wearing black a Knockerball USA tshirt.
Slow down and smile.

Running a business, you are bombarded with 100 decisions to make every single day. Enjoy this responsibility, enjoy your team, enjoy your customers, enjoy your partners. Have fun, laugh, learn, and grow together as individuals and as a group. Remember—you signed up for this craziness.



Photos by Chase Hirt / Imaginaire Media

This article appeared in the 2023 issue of Exchange magazine.