The Power of Small Wins

Big wins. They are what we all live for, right?

Being crowned King Kristin (hmm, Roger, can we chat?) at Eldora Speedway’s Kings Royal or the Knoxville Nationals Champion might top your list. Or maybe you’re aiming higher, for a points championship in Formula One or NASCAR.

But most of us aren’t just one step away from our IndyCar points trophies. That might be where our dream started, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow, or this year, and we’re mostly okay with that.

Can someone Snapchat a crown on me in this picture? Or the dog? I'm not picky...

Can someone Snapchat filter a crown on me in this picture? Or the dog? I’m really not picky…

Why? As long as we don’t quit, we’re still working towards our dreams.

But what about those days – or months – when you’re losing motivation? When those big wins are too far apart? When you feel like you’re not making any progress? When you question what you’re doing altogether? 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve released just shy of 20,000 words in the Build Your Racing Brand Challenge. It’s been a bigger undertaking than I imagined, mostly because I can’t stop typing everything I think will help you in your quest to build a brand.

(Didn’t join at the beginning of the month? Don’t worry – you can still start from Day 1 of the FREE challenge right on over here. There are tons of social media goodies in there, along with mindset hacks (<-just realized I don’t care for that word, thankyouverymuch) and sponsorship insights.)

It’s also the middle of summer – the busiest time of the year for us in terms of schedule because we’re racing and so are all of our clients – and I have been up to my eyeballs in work that doesn’t seem to be moving the needle. Scheduling. Booking hotels. Re-booking hotels when you finally realize how much space your hauler requires. Invoicing. Updating websites. Ordering hero cards and apparel. Counting your Starbucks rewards points. Refreshing Weather Underground.

You know, real game changers.

But when I sat down this week and started going through some of the emails and messages I’ve gotten through DirtyMouth recently, I realized that I needed a big dose of my own medicine.

See, awhile back I wrote about making waves vs. making ripples. Here’s an excerpt:

“When you first start out in racing, or in anything else for that matter, you’re a beginner. From your first job to your first time playing a video game, you generally start out at zero.

And when you work at something new, you start improving. In fact, the harder you work, the more you improve. You go from tiny steps to leaps and bounds.

It’s easy to see this with rookie racers. Most struggle to make their first laps. But after some experience, they start to improve. Once they get the car under them, they quickly shave a large chunk of time off of their laps. Then they finish their first race and begin making passes. When you get a little bit of skill and confidence, you can quickly go from last to, well, not last.

That’s making waves.

But as you get better and better, those huge improvements taper off. You might only shave two seconds off your best lap on a good night. After more experience, it’ll reduce to one. And eventually, when you’ve hit a comfortable stride, your improvement will likely plateau completely.

And that’s when it seems like the sea is calm.

That’s the tipping point for many of us. When it seems like we can’t improve any more, some just accept status quo and maintain.

But if you want to get to the next level, you have to accept that the waves of change are going to start to look like ripples.

I wrote all that, and then I immediately forgot.

I reached that tipping point in my business the same way that racers do when they are in the thick of the in-between: I felt like I wasn’t making enough progress, and I got defeated.

But this 30 Day Build Your Racing Brand Challenge reminded me of the importance of recognizing progress and celebrating small wins.

Since we started the challenge, I’ve seen quite a few racers take major steps forward in their efforts to build a brand. They’ve grown Twitter followers, talked to new potential marketing partners, attracted new fans and increased their social media engagement. Some have started their first Facebook pages and others have improved their brand image with professional photos and graphics.

These are all small wins that I got to be a part of. 

And I forgot how important that was in my quest to help you turn the racing industry around by packing the stands and selling out your sponsorship programs.

These small wins will snowball over time into bigger opportunities, because that’s what being a brand affords you if you treat that privilege with respect. They might just be the foundation for a big win.

Your emails and messages and posts inside the Sponsorship Success Community and wins helped remind me of that. So let me remind you.

When you and your team are working for something big, it’s easy to get discouraged along the path. Identify the small wins, even if they feel like a step back on paper, that you can shoot for in the meantime. 

If you’re moving up to the next level after winning a lot of races (<-close to home right now), consider a goal of qualifying for races in that more competitive series. When you’re comfortable there, shoot for a consistently top-15 car. Your big win at that point might be a top-5 – not out of reach, but not easy.

Set yourself, and your team, up for success by creating small wins that actually matter. And then celebrating when you achieve them.

That’s what will move the needle and keep you motivated all at the same time.


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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.