The other day while working on my bicycle wheel, I took note of the fragility of each individual spoke.  Any individual spoke when not laced up in a wheel would be easy to bend with only your fingers.  The reality is a spoke does not have very much weight carrying capacity when you try to flex it side to side or in compression.  The same spoke that will easily bend in half in compression has an incredible amount of strength in tension.  Even though a spoke has an incredible amount of tension strength, the lowly spoke offers very little in the way of stability.

The fact is the only way for a spoke to be an effective part of a wheel is when it’s used with other spokes at various angles keeping the wheel secure from all directions.  The weight carrying capacity of a spoked wheel really comes from the spokes at the top of the wheel as they are having all the weight hanging on them.  When you look at how tiny the spokes are in a wheel, it is sort of amazing that they will not only hold my 228 pounds of body weight but will also take the shock loads incurred from jumping along with the torsional stresses induced from cornering loads.  

While working on my bicycle wheel, it made me think of all the spokes that go into holding a business together.  You cannot support a successful business by simply being good at just one area.  Let's go into trucking a little bit where being a good truck driver by itself is not enough to make a great business.  To have a successful trucking business you need a good driver, the right truck, the right business practices, financing skills, accounting discipline, marketing, proper maintenance regimens, technical know-how, good customer relations, and determination. All of these factors are much like a properly laced bicycle wheel.  Each spoke keeps the wheel true and strong. 

Let's apply this to our business.  It is a monumental task to maintain all of the spokes in a business rolling smoothly.  Maybe you are a great driver along with some good mechanical skills.  You may possibly have some good bookkeeping experience.  These could help maintain your business in order.  However, you might not have the marketing skills to find the necessary customers to support the business.  If your marketing/sales skills are not your forte, you may lease your truck onto a carrier that has a sales force in place to secure enough business to meet your revenue needs.  There are very few people who are masters in every field that is required to have a thriving sustainable business. It is okay to farm out the areas of your business where your skillset is not adequate to maintain that “spoke” of your business.  There are accounting services, maintenance plans, and other professionals to help you in nearly any area you may need assistance in. 

I have met many successful trucking owners who can't drive a truck.  In their case, they hire drivers to fill this need.  So this goes in all directions as to how you could put the “spokes” that hold your business together in place. Remember, any one spoke by itself is of little use.  However, when laced together with other spokes you can achieve great weight carrying capacity.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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