Bicycle Business

2013-04-16_blog_image_bicycle business wheel

Last summer, my than 8 year old daughter, had outgrown her first bike and it was time for a ‘real’ bike. We purchased her a new bike- no training wheels, no wicker basket, no white tires, and lever handbrakes. My wife and I attempted to teach her how to ride.

A brief sidebar- my wife and I are both avid cyclists. The misses a roadie myself a mountain biker. The Tour de France is a big deal in our house; our schedules revolve around the races. My wife races sprint tri’s, marathons, bike races, etc. In addition to my mountain biking I also dirt bike- basically ‘activity’ is part of our lives and being on two-wheels is a big part of the activities.

Every weekend we were at the neighborhood field holding on to her or the bike and running behind, beside, in front, wherever. She was easily distracted by squirrels, friends, copperhead snake (okay I’ll give her that one), birds, etc. She wasn’t getting it or just wasn’t interested; I believe it was a lack of interest. I tried sweetening the pot by informing her once she was riding proficiently I’d be able to send her to home depot, the beer ice cream shop to get me stuff. She was having none of it. Summer came and went. The bike sat in the garage. Life moved on, months passed.

Yesterday, after finishing up some yard and house work, I was sitting outside relaxing while my daughter was riding her scooter up and down the sidewalk. My wife came home after a bike ride, showered, and joined us outside on the beautiful North Carolina spring day. My daughter than decided she’s had enough of the scooter and puts it away. She walks over to her bike, kicks up the stand and holds the bike with one hand as it leans away from her. She visually looks over the bike from front to back and back to front again. She swings her leg over and sits down. A squeeze of the front and rear brake and she’s assured of something. This was all of about one minute. My wife and I are watching but not saying a word. My daughter then looks over at us and says “I’m going to teach myself to ride a bike.”

The next fifteen minutes were spent with her figuring out her balance by ‘riding’ from one end of the garage to the other. Then it was down the grass for the next five minutes. After that she was riding up the sidewalk to the stop sign and back. Thirty minutes in, she rides up the drive way and states “Come on dad, get your bike so I can beat you around the circle!” Lap one around the circle wasn’t even close, she beat me. Lap two, she beat me and my wife. Lap three, she went undefeated. My wife and I are extremely proud and amazed that within thirty minutes she taught herself to ride the bike- it was one of those parent moments that make you realize what’s really important. We pried her off the bike, ate dinner, read some books, and soon she was fast asleep for the night.

2013-04-16_blog_image_bicycle business ride

Later in the evening I started thinking about the day’s event. I firmly believe that last summer my wife and I provided the framework to our daughter as to how to ride a bike. Even though she wasn’t interested at the time, she was listening. I believe business sometimes follows a similar path. Over the past few years I’ve talked to whoever would listen about what I do as an architect and what value I bring to a project. Work was slow to non-existent. However, I knew I had done the right things to pursue projects. At the end of 2012 I was mentally exhausted.

January 2013 started and I shifted focus to other things that had been put to the side or blatantly ignored- yeah, yeah, I know… with any luck I’ll finally re-do the web site this year! However, before I knew it I had two substantial projects with executed agreements- a significant residential renovation/addition and a new custom single family home. In addition, I’ve talked to four potential clients about residential projects and another about a tenant up-fit. I firmly believe this has come about because I laid the framework and just finally stepped back to let things happen. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating a complete hands off approach to business. However, much like life, I’m starting to realize that even in business, sometimes one need not try so hard and trust that things will work out. For that epiphany, I have my daughter and her business with the bicycle to thank.

2013-04-16_blog_image_bicycle business hot rod(prior to falling asleep, she informed me this will be her next bike… she has taste and style)

Cheers + happy cycling!


Design On,

** Turn your device off and go ride a bike… seriously, do it!

  1. businessofarch said:

    Keith, thanks for the inspiration, two subjects I love – biking and architecture. Great analogy!

  2. We had a similar experience last summer. I came to the conclusion quickly that my son wasn’t going to learn by me holding the back of the seat. We did much like you and I explained to him how he could ride through the garage and driveway back and forth until he “got it.” My wife and I did yard work as we watched out of the corner of our eye. Lo and behold he got it too! Freaky. As you I was elated being a former BMX rider. Very cool, thanks for sharing.

    • Lee- thanks for reading. Yes, sounds about the same. BMX! Wow, you’re hardcore!

  3. On another note, I “lost” two significant visible commercial projects this/last year and I’m feeling a bit down. I believe in what you’re saying, I’m just a bit frustrated lately.

    • Sorry to hear that. I’m by no means doing ‘well.’ I am thankful for what work I do have. Although my mind often wonders to whether or not I should continue ‘architecting.’ I love building, constructing, design, etc. but the traditional role of the architect, I believe, is on it’s last few breaths…just not sure what else to pursue…ah to be younger would help.

      • I have work, so I’m grateful. I’m just pondering what work do I want to take and do I want to turn down uninteresting work even if it means having little or no work.

      • Sounds all to familiar to me.

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