Before we dive in, here’s some background story…
It was July 2021, and Nicole (Nic) & I took a bold step to venture into something we had never imagined doing. Surfskating!
It’s one of the best decisions ever made, period.
Nic started this fantastic episode in our lives, by the way… Then she got me hooked, and we got many others hooked. When she started, she was probably the first or one of the first few to pick up the sport in Penang.
And naturally, she was met with a lot of resistance because she was trying something new.
Naysayers (me included) weren’t really supportive. We say things like…
Are you crazy?
You’re not kids anymore. Why pick up skating?
What happens when you fall? Why are you inviting trouble – blood and scars?
And so on… you get the idea.
But she did it anyway.
Fast forward to today (at the time of writing), we have about 50 active surfskaters in our Penang community. The number keeps growing.
Networking with people of various backgrounds and industries opened up many more opportunities for us. Heck, we even met Connecty’s Account Director and designer through surfskating.
Okay, okay… enough of the background story.
So what do business, branding and skating have in common? Or rather, how are they related?
As business owners, here are 4 things we’ve learnt after skating for a year.
1. Start! Just start!
When we start a business or a brand, it’s usually because we’re passionate about something.
But a successful business or brand isn’t built on passion alone.
Instead, it takes a lot of deliberate effort to sustain and grow. These include strategic actions, time, positioning, trials & errors, etc.
The same can be said about skating.
We can watch as many video tutorials as we want, but as long as we don’t start practising, we won’t learn. We won’t improve.
We’ve got to jump waist-deep into the sport to learn to play the sport right.
For businesses or brands, that means making a strategic decision and sticking with it to the end.
So we’ve got to start. It will be messy, but we’ll learn and improve.
If you think branding is something worth investing in, do it!
If you think advertising your brand helps with your lead generation, do it!
Like Nike’s famous tagline – Just Do It!
2. Don’t be afraid to fail.
The path to improvement or growth is not linear or pretty.
It’ll be very messy until we figure our business or brand out. There will be pitfalls that we did not anticipate.
Each failure is an opportunity to better our craft.
We learn from our mistakes and do better. That’s how businesses and brands learn their style or identity.
Figuring out what resonates with your target market will be messy at first.
In skating, that’s exactly how the pros became pros. They started somewhere. Fell and hurt themselves a gazillion times trying to learn a new trick.
Each time they fail, they get up and try again.
Nic and I had our fair share of failures learning new tricks – but it didn’t stop us from returning for more.
3. Be prepared.
When running a business or growing a brand, always be prepared for some setbacks. We can set up cushioning mechanisms in place when disaster happens.
It can be a brand guide that contains your brand’s core values. Then, when your brand suffers from a negative sentiment from a customer, your team can navigate the issue without undermining your brand.
It can also be a financial buffer if something beyond your control affects your cash flow.
For skating, we invest in excellent protective gear. Falling when learning new tricks is inevitable. When that happens, at least we know we have adequate protection to get up and skate again.
Padding up also empowers us to try new tricks with confidence.
4. Get help from professionals.
There is always a learning curve for everything. Of course, we can try and DIY our way through, but things are much simpler and faster if we have professional help and guidance.
Take creating a website for your business as an example. You can spend time researching how to set it up, design it, and even write your own content.
In doing that, you’re actually trading off time you could’ve spent building relationships with prospects to close a deal.
Did you make the best use of your time to figure out how to build a website?
We got a pro to guide us when we first learned how to skate a bowl.
It was the right thing to do.
We could have spent our limited and precious time trying to figure out how to do it on our own. If we had done that, we wouldn’t have progressed so fast to enjoy riding the bowl.
The tips and pointers from a pro helped us navigate the skate bowl and mitigate nasty falls.
In business and branding, working with a professional help us mitigate foreseeable issues.
When there is a better approach to doing something, why charge down a path that will lead to disaster?
Finally… as a bonus…
Engaging ourselves in outdoor activities, basking in the morning sun, and soaking in an abundance of positive vibes from the community does wonder to our wellness.
As entrepreneurs (especially like us in the creative industry), skating allows us to recharge our creative juice and keep a sharp mind.
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Wanna know what we do? We help companies win the hearts and minds of their customers. Check out our success stories.