Five business tips from the race course

1. What's in a name?

Whether you're at Newbury, Aintree or Ascot, the crowd will be a mixture of seasoned gamblers, racing enthusiasts and complete beginners. For the latter group, odds, lineage, going and form will be alien concepts. How do they choose their favourites in each race? They pick a name they like. When you register your business, think long and hard about the name that gives your business the best chance in life.

There are a lot of rules when it comes to naming a horse. Obscenities are out. The same rule tends to apply in business: remember when Delboy dubbed his business "Trotters Independent Traders"? He neglected to notice the acronym spelled "TIT". You are also barred from using the name of Triple Crown or Breeders Cup Champion (copying existing trademarks).

The names that typically do best with punters have a funny or nostalgic twist. Research your market to find out the best name for your business.

2. Wins are like bananas. They come in bunches

Jockeys will often compete in several races at the same event. And here's another interesting fact: a jockey that wins one race will often win a second, or even a third race. This doesn't necessarily have much to do with the jockey's skill, more his/her eye: a seasoned jockey will have a good sense of a winner.

This rule also applies to families: both in business and in racing. The sire and dams of each runner are always listed. Why? Winners tend to beget winners. In business, it's interesting how many entrepreneurs come from entrepreneurial backgrounds, or count close relatives among their most trusted business mentors. When picking an investor or business partner, look for experience, hard-wired business nous, serial success and, most importantly, an entrepreneur that's "sitting chilly".

3. Know your "steamers" from your "sleepers"

Bookies will often try and confound gamblers with in-jokes and jargon. Don't be dazzled by talk of "rags" or "tissue prices". These terms are on a par with "solutions" and "low hanging fruit". If you don't understand something, ask. There's no shame in ignorance. Remember, in racing as in business, you learn by doing, making mistakes, and maybe even losing a little cash along the way.  Swot up on terms and betting rules before you bet to minimise unnecessary losses, however. And don't go straight for a complex accumulator before you've bet each way. Learn to walk before you can run.

4. Don't bet more than you can afford to lose

Gambling and entrepreneurship both involve an element of risk. The trick is to manage that risk. Prudent gamblers will set a limit to their betting budget. Try and do the same when launching a business or product. One costs spiral out of control, the returns need to be ever larger to fill the gap, putting extra pressure on your business model.

In betting, unlike entrepreneurship, it is advisable to quit while you're ahead. In business, profits are often ploughed straight back in to grow a company. Be that as it may, know when to call it a day and tear up your betting slips.

5. Network like a demon

Keep your ears open and your mouth shut: you never know what racing tips you might pick up. People are gregarious souls and will often trade tips or offer advice. In business and in racing, start with your own network - you'll be surprised how useful your existing contacts can be for mining useful nuggets of information, then go further afield.

The races can be a great place to network. This is why so many companies choose to host their hospitality days at the races. It's a highly social sport : gamblers bond over their wins and their losses. But here's a caveat: a tip is just that - a tip. If that dead cert turns out to be a three-legged donkey, take it on the chin. The tips gleaned at networking events are occasionally valuable, and occasionally utterly useless.


Happy betting!



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