When you’re working a full-time job, it can be really difficult to find time to do all the stuff associated with sponsorship. The research, the graphic design, the pitching, the meetings, the phone calls, the social media…
But if you’re really serious about your racing career, you need to find the time to sit down and get on with the work.
This article addresses some of the reasons you might think you don’t have enough time to get everything done. But also give you some time-saving tips as well.
I’ve started side businesses while working full time. So I know how you feel. When I first got started with my own marketing and PR agency, I was working for another agency at the time. And although I was able to build my freelance career in my spare time, I had to put in a lot more work to launch my own agency to a point where I could quit my job.
If you’re really serious about getting paid to race and making this your career, which is totally possible, you may need to that leap. But there are ways to build up to that before you jack in your job!
The problem I find most racing drivers have — or in fact anyone who is working on a side hustle — is they say that they don’t have enough time, but they’re not actually sitting down and spending the time required to do the work.
They just see themselves in this full-time role and say: “I don’t have enough time,” and then never do the work. It’s used as an excuse. You’re working full-time. You’re busy. You want to spend time with your family. You want to go to the gym. You have a car to build. How could you possibly fit in sponsorship activities around that, right?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that work, family, building a race car, doing the actual racing, hanging out with your friends, and having some time to relax can really, really eat into how much time you have to spend on sponsorship. But to be exceptional and to do something big, you need to make sacrifices.
The drivers that are earning high five- into six-figures in sponsorship are spending a lot of time on sponsorship, acquisition, activation, and relationship building.
So, I get it, it can be really time-consuming if you’re already working a 40-plus-hour week. This is why I teach the Get Paid to Race model as something that could either help you fund your hobby or replace your full-time role, depending on how much time you put in. This model lets you focus more on your racing and maybe set up your own business. One that works more with your time and the sponsorship stuff that you have going on.
Before I go into some time-saving and productivity tips, I want you to really think about whether you do have enough time and whether you’re just using your full-time job as an excuse to not get the work done.
A large sponsorship amount could change your life and that can be scary because there’s so much work involved.
As humans, we’re programmed to take the easy route and accept the status quo. But if you’re searching for big sponsorship and excited to move up the ladder, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You need to get used to hard work, and you need to realise that your life will probably change quite a lot.
Your fears and mental blocks aside, searching for sponsorship and looking after your partners can be time-consuming. Here are some tips to save time on sponsorship.
I bang on about research a lot because it’s the most important part of the sponsorship acquisition mix. You need to be doing proper research on every single sponsor you approach.
This might sound like it’s going to take a ton of time, right? At the moment, you’re probably aiming for volume, and researching hundreds of sponsors would take a long time. But what I want you to do is be more picky about your prospects and do a deeper dive into each one.
You’ll be spending longer on each prospect but your response rate’s going to be much, much higher so you won’t need the volume approach to get your replies.
Instead of grabbing the yellow pages and emailing a hundred people in your local area, seek out people who share your audience and would work with you in a way that compliments your brand and compliments the people that you’re already speaking to. Find 10 of those and spend an hour researching each one and write a pitch from that. Your success rate is going to go through the roof, which means it’s going to be easiest to land a sponsor.
You’ll also have fewer people to follow up with and your follow-ups are going to be more successful. You have fewer meetings to go to, fewer phone calls to get on, and fewer emails to send; all of this saves you time.
Batch your work
This means that if you’re doing a lot of similar tasks like sending emails, writing tweets, or writing thank-you cards to sponsors, batch these things. Don’t send an email to a sponsor, then research, then do a follow-up, then write some tweets. Write all of your tweets in one go, send all of your emails in one go, and do all your admin tasks at once. This makes it much, much easier to get in a flow and your concentration isn’t broken up by switching tasks.
Let’s talk about multi-tasking (known in tech circles as context switching). You can’t multi-task. It’s literally not a thing. (Read this article from Harvard Business Review.) If you try to multi-task, you end up going between lots of different little jobs and this can stop you from doing prolonged, efficient work.
If you can batch your work, you’ll be able to find your flow and get everything done much, much more quickly and efficiently.
Get up one hour earlier
If you work a normal 9-5 job and don’t want to get up one hour earlier to do this sponsorship work, then you’re probably not cut out for this. (Racing Mentor, dishing out the tough love since 2016…)
Just one hour earlier every day could make a huge difference in how much work you can get done. One of my clients who got a six-figure sum for this year’s sponsorship says that he spends about 30 hours a month on sponsor acquisition, looking after his sponsors, so on and so forth. Now, a lot of that is in race events and corporate days. But if you want to spend 30 hours a month on the business side of your racing, just get up an hour earlier.
Even if you start off by doing that once a week or getting up half an hour earlier three days a week, it’s all going to make a difference.
Start to work in these early mornings into your routine and make sure your family are on board. I’d always choose to get up early over going to bed late because you’re well-rested and fresh. If I try to stay up late to work, I end up saying, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ and just go to bed. I am a morning person, though, so if the thought of getting up early is offensive, try giving yourself an hour at the end of the day.
Sending pitch emails in the mornings is great but if you’re sending them in the afternoon or late at night, schedule them to send the following morning as they’re more likely to be seen by your prospect. I use Boomerang for this.
Use work breaks
If you’re working in an office or an environment where you can’t just take the time whenever you want to for calls and meetings, use your breaks to make those important phone calls. When you’re scheduling calls with potential sponsors, make sure it’s at a time in your working day when you’ll be free (such as a lunch break).
If the business you’re working for is sympathetic to what you’re doing within motorsport, you may be able to get a little flexibility for your sponsorship activity.
Maybe you pitched to your boss and they were interested but they couldn’t work with you because of lack of budget or support from higher-ups. This often presents a good opportunity to try and work out some kind of flexible working arrangement.
There’s no doubt that there’s some kind of benefit to your employers for allowing you to do this. Maybe it’s just tickets to an event, maybe it’s a simple advertising agreement in exchange for a bit of free time in your working week, maybe you have other ideas. Whatever you agree, having a bit of flexibility in your day can make a huge difference.
Before you get to the planning stage, you may need to do some brainstorming. Of course, you can’t jump into pitching if you don’t know who you are, what you can offer or who you’re targetting. Take some time to understand all of this because it’ll help you in the future.
If you have a copy of Get Paid to Race, take a look at page 65 for more advice on brainstorming.
Don’t just throw yourself into a hustle for sponsorship without understanding your goals and how you’re going to reach them.
Think about how you’re going to pitch, how you’re going to research, when you’re going to do your pitching, when you might be available for meetings, and so on.
If you do your job properly, you could even take a couple of days off work and fit in all of your meetings. Sure, it’ll be knackering, and you might have to do lots of driving but it’s a great way around the barrier of working 9-5.
If you plan enough in advance and follow up correctly, you’re going to be in a position where you can plan this kind of stuff down to that kind of minute detail. Plus, when it comes to giving the call to action, you’ve got a specific date or dates that you can give to potential sponsors for when you might pop in and see them.
Take time to create a real plan of action, even down to the kind of businesses you’re going to pitch to. The Get Paid to Race course takes you through this so if you’re a student, use the time-saving and planning sheets to your advantage.
Manage your time properly
Just sitting down in front of a computer and doing a few bits and pieces here and there isn’t enough. You need to track and manage your time properly so you know where you’re at.
You might do this with a spreadsheet, or with something like Podio or Trello. If you’re tracking your time properly, planning what you’re supposed to be doing, setting yourself goals, and looking at what’s slowing you down, you’re going to be more focused.
Every time that you sit down to do this kind of work, you need to know exactly what the next step is. It might be following up on a batch of pitches, doing some more research, or proofreading the pitches that are ready to go out. Set tasks then start to check them off like the boss you are.
Persevere with this. Finding the focus to sit down and get on with work can be tough. It took me at least a year of being self-employed to find the discipline to sit down every day and work. Proper planning will help you stay on track but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a perfect business-owner-racing-driver every day.
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