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From Athlete to Accountant: The Different Hats of a Privateer Racer
It was much, much easier being a roadie.
I’ve finally labelled myself as a “privateer racer” which effectively means that I’ve got a small group of personal sponsors that allow me to race my own calendar. In other words, a one man team. From Athlete to Accountant, Partnership Coordinator to Logistics - being a privateer is learning to wear many different hats and doing many different jobs.
Let me explain in more detail.
I’m staying strong on this one. I want to be the best athlete that I can. I’m still putting in the same training hours and intensity than any year I raced full time on the road. Without being the best athlete I can, what am I?
When I recently appeared on The Roadman Podcast, host Anthony Walsh questioned why I don’t lower my training load and instead put more time into building up my media and sponsorship profile which would in turn make me more money.
That’s something I could quite easily do. I’m open in saying that it’s a struggle to manage training, recovery, a social life, freelance work, sponsor commitments and trying to build this Substack. By lowering my training hours, I’d probably be less fatigued which in turn is less time to recover. I could give more time to another commitment in my life.
However, and a big however I’m an athlete, and I stay strong on that. If I cut my training hours and just remain good rather than the best I can be, doesn’t that effectively make me an influencer?
One day, I’ll reduce my training load and intensity. That day is not today. The reason I do all this is because I want to ride my bike.
Sponsorship contracts are complicated, and each one is a little different. Some agreements require me to work X days per month for the brand. Some have in person events back in the UK. Others are a little more time intensive at the start to get set-up, and then will calm down once we’re up and running.
I’ve called this section “Partnership Coordinator” as that’s how I see all of my partners. I want every agreement I make to be mutually beneficial. I don’t want to do a cash grab and the other side gets nothing from it, because where’s the sustainability or authenticity in that? (Saying that, everyone has a price and for a million pounds you can guarantee that I’d do a cash grab, I’m not even sorry)
Last week, I had a call with one of my partners, Pullwood Consulting. We were discussing how to get the partnership going and turn the “We’d love to do this and that” conversations into actionables.
As the call was ending, they asked me if I had any questions for them. “What are you looking to get from this?”, I questioned. Their answer: they want to have fun, learn, have a genuine impact and build assets that we can both use. Of course, they want to drive more business from our relationship too, but it’s about much more than that. A failed partnership would be one that is “just handshaking” with no actual impact.
I work with Portfolio Sport, a management company that help me to negotiate and navigate any contracts. While they do take a percentage of my earnings, it is without doubt worth the while. Not only are they experts in negotiation and building contracts, it also helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and take away some of the stress.
The Logistics Man
I’ve got a feeling that logistics are going to become the least favourite area of my life. Entering races, booking flights, organising accommodation, transport and more. On the road, all of these things were taken care of. You are emailed a plane ticket and simply had to find your way to the airport and board the plane. From there, you would be picked up on the other side and driven to accommodation that someone else has booked, to ride a race that someone else has entered.
These days, it’s a lot more complicated. If the race ends on Sunday but there are no good flights home until Tuesday then where do you stay that extra night, how do you get there, where do you eat? All of these problems can easily be solved by throwing money around, but on a tight budget that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.
Don’t get me started on race entries either. Trying to keep track of the close date of different races and then realising they’ve sold out before I’d even debated what was going to be in my calendar. I’m looking at you Unbound and Traka.
I mentioned the budget in my previous point. I’m convinced that no matter how big the budget, you still want to spend it in the most efficient way. My contracts are structured in a way that payments come at different times of the year and differing key events. Trying to balance the budget so it’s spent in the correct way at the correct time is a bit of a headache.
For example, it pays to book flights as early as possible as they’re often cheaper. But, plans change very quickly, so book a flight too early and you might not need it at all.
Keeping all of my receipts and detailed records is something that, as a freelancer, I’ve always had to do, but nowadays it’s a lot more important. I’m dealing with bigger sums of money, differing currencies and more expenses than ever before. It’s a challenge.
Throughout all of this, I’m still maintaining a core group of around five freelance writing clients. Many of my partners for Project TAG are hybrid style contracts where I do some writing work too, but away from that I maintain my core group of clients.
In an ideal world, and in the future, I will be looking at combining the two a little better. I hope that I can work with clients that will also come on as partners of Project TAG, and that I can generate enough income to be able to live and race.
While my Project TAG partners allow me to go about my race calendar, my freelance clients allow me to pay my rent and put food on the table. You could argue that they’re equally as important!
This isn’t a “cap” that I’m wearing, but is probably the biggest thing that I’m struggling with. Trying to do everything I’ve just mentioned is not a small task. Don’t worry, I’m not expecting any sympathy and I think that now more than ever I recognise how lucky I am to be able to do what I do.
Time management is the biggest challenge though. I think at the start it is going to be busier. I have race logistics to organise, new partner meetings to have and bikes to set up. I imagine I’ll get into the flow of things with time too - at least I hope.
Just like when I first moved to Girona and wrote an article about the town, I know I’m going to look back at this article and smile about how naive I was. I wouldn’t say I have imposter syndrome, but I’m definitely still a little scared. Going after privateer life is potentially the best thing I’ve ever done, or potentially the worst. Only time will tell, and either way it’ll be a great story.
While you’re here…
I’ve added both paid subscription and a ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ link to this post. As the year progresses, I’m planning on building this blog and putting out articles which I’ve always wanted to write but for whatever reason, haven’t wanted to pitch.
Any money that I make from either my Substack, or BMaC link will go straight back into supporting my 2023 racing project. I am planning on keeping all content on here free to view though.
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