Position Yourself for Opportunities

‘Put yourself in a position to win.’

I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve seen or heard that phrase.

When you’re new or a beginner, the first step in positioning to win can be as simple and straightforward as working as hard as you can and/or investing as much as you can into what matters. As you get more advanced, this brings to mind the tougher decisions you might have to make in the garage or at the track – put on a new tire for time trials when the used one will do? – that will hone in your program and literally put you into a position on the race track to win.

Then, there’s the dimension that you know I love talking about: the mindset, and what happens off the track.

To me, positioning to win isn’t where you start out. You don’t expect to win your first race, just like you don’t expect to be CEO on your first day of a new job. You first need an opportunity to, for example, get on the track. Or submit a resume for an interview.

I believe ‘positioning to win’ in racing is the same. Wins start with opportunities.

This is just my long way of saying that, to win, you have to first position yourself for opportunities.

You can’t pass for the win if you aren’t near the front. You don’t have the opportunity. That’s not just on the track – it applies to the rest of your program, too, whether you’re a racer, promoter or business.

So, how do you do that?

The first step is setting your intention. The second step is committing to that intention and opening yourself up, or making yourself available, for that to actually happen. 

Let me give you a real-life example before we head to all of the other ways this can apply:

This morning, I’m on a plane to Dallas, Texas heading to Devil’s Bowl Speedway for the Lucas Oil ASCS Tour Winter Nationals where my husband – Carl Bowser – has a ride for the event. (The Chris Archer-owned 7m, teammate to Texas hot-shoe Kevin Ramey. Thanks, guys!)

That’s an opportunity. A huge one.

He’ll meet lots of new people, gain exposure to a new set of fans, race at a new race track that he’s always wanted to get to, work with a fellow driver he respects, and be broadcast on MavTv and RacinBoys.

But it didn’t come out of nowhere. He, and we, positioned for it.

Here are just a few of the ways we’ve done that:

  • Carl ventures out and races at new places and in front of new audiences. While some people are worried about how difficult it is to post the win count he racks up at places he’s been to before, we know that anyone with a seasoned eye on the professional side of racing will see what we need them to: his talent, his willingness to work hard and take risks, his ability to adapt and change on and off the track, our professionalism as a team, and so on. Our goal is to finish as high as we can, but we don’t expect our finishes to reflect his ability at the beginning. Being in a position to win means first being at that track and giving yourself the opportunity.
  • We build our relationships. From fans to media, vendors to team owners, we have put ourselves in a position to be recommended and thought of when opportunities arise. Although he’s surprisingly quiet, I know that Carl makes an impression with people he speaks to. And, as someone in the industry, I can say the same about other drivers and crew members who have made an impression on me, and whom I would gladly recommend to others for an opportunity. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, attitude matters. I can’t emphasize that enough.
  • Carl has a brand, and a presence. People take notice of his beautifully-designed car at the race track – (thanks MSMDesigns.com!), they see him on Twitter and Facebook, they see fans wearing his apparel, they see his Turner’s Premium Iced Tea television commercial in our local market or his in-car videos on YouTube, and, like we talked about, they see him at more and more events. None of that is an accident.
  • Most importantly, over the last year Carl has transitioned himself out of a full-time job and is working towards making racing his career. That means he’s available when opportunities like this come up and doesn’t have to ask for time off. And I’ve done the same. 90% of my business is location-independent, which means that we can both go when he has an opportunity.

That last bullet in itself was a set of goals that we had to set intentions for. We opened ourselves up to opportunities that would make that happen by building an online business instead of committing to a location-based career, creating opportunities for him to build and maintain other race cars and offer shock dyno and scaling services by buying equipment and being open to helping others, and much more.

Even though Carl could have taken this opportunity a year ago, they likely wouldn’t have offered this because he wasn’t position this way. It’s like selling anything – you have to make it easy for your customer to buy – and making people wonder creates obstacles.

I’m not saying that you have to quit your job to become a hired driver, but it sure makes it easier for people to offer you that opportunity when you’ve already positioned yourself for it..

The same thing applies to other areas of your team and business.

For example:

  • It’s tough for companies to buy a sponsorship package for a car that doesn’t yet exist, or billboards at a track that hasn’t been built yet. Instead of saying: ‘if we had enough sponsorship, we could go race that event,’ you need to consider pitching ‘we are going to run this event, here are the marketing opportunities we have available.’ Everything starts out as a plan. But smart marketers buy specifics, not generalities.
  • Manufacturers likely won’t approach a part-time parts dealer that works out of his garage to become a territory-owner, even if that deal would mean you could operate full-time out of a storefront like they require. It becomes more likely if you have a plan and you approach them with it.
  • Sponsors and team owners won’t find you if a) don’t know about you or b) can’t find you. Having an active presence at events, on social media and with a website, for example, knocks down barriers to opportunities.
  • Most fans won’t ask to buy t-shirts if you don’t already have them on hand. They’re slightly more likely to buy them from your website if they’re designed and ready to order. They’re most likely to buy them when they can see them, pick them up and walk away with them.

My point isn’t that you can’t do any of these things without taking every leap. My point is that it’s infinitely more difficult to sell or attract what you don’t have yourself positioned for.

There’s a reason the phrase isn’t: “If they come, we will build it.”

And, although I have a million marketing arguments against the simplicity of ‘if we build it, they will come’, the phrase rings true for attracting opportunities.

That’s critical: because before you can win at anything, you first need the opportunity to be in the game.

xo.

Kristin

P.S. How am I positioning myself for opportunities? Glad you asked. First, by writing this. My clients know my ability to write because I, ahem, write. Consistently. And I put that out into the world. Second, by creating offerings. I offer coaching sessions, social media programs for tracks and series’, and proposal reviews. I’m continuing to step up my game by designing new offerings, including done-for-you products that I’m excited to be announcing in the next few weeks. If you want the full scoop, and an early-bird discount, subscribe below!

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.