Posted: Fri 11th Jul 2014
With the Tour de France having zipped through the UK, it leaves behind a keen interest in cycling that's creating opportunity for the small businesses of Britain.
If you're thinking of starting or growing a business in the cycling sector, you're entering a growing market. Recent coverage in the Financial Times stated:
'Cycling is now the third biggest participation sport in England, behind swimming and athletics having moved ahead of football and golf. Sport England estimates that 2.1m people cycle each week - not including commuting.'
On the back of this, we've seen new businesses form. Companies like Vulpine and Brake Bikes who are bringing stylish fashion and designer bikes to cycling. Both are now selling across the globe and keeping up with demand from a vibrant UK market.
Innovation in the sector is rife. Emily Brooke came up with the idea for her Blaze Laserlight in her final year University project and, following a successful crowdfunding campaign, is bringing the light safety product to the cycling market.
The market is set to continue to prosper with Frog Bikes, the husband and wife duo behind the lightweight kids' bike which is selling nationwide via independent retailers.
These companies - and many more - are being buoyed by significant investment going into cycling from the public purse. At a meet at City Hall earlier this week, we heard that Â£913 million is being invested over the next 10 years in London's cycling infrastructure, including dedicated cycle lanes and expanding the Cycle Hire scheme.
Matching a growing number of customers is a growing commitment to cycling safety.
Cycling is creating business opportunities but it's also worth noting the parallels with business in terms of how the sport operates.
Sir Dave Brailsford is manager of Team Sky and renowned for being a key figure in the surging popularity of the sport. He recently wrote of his selection process in choosing the team to compete in the Tour:
'You win and lose together as a team. Great teams are not always made up of huge stars. Froome has a team around him of riders with different talents - lieutenants who can pace him up the high mountains alongside others who can help dictate the race on the flatter stages and ensure Froome can conserve as much energy as possible for the key moments in the race and the crucial final week. You are picking the team to support the lead rider.'
As I read this, I thought how true it is in business. How business owners seek to surround themselves with trusted lieutenants who have the skills and strength to clear the route for business success.
So what's the reason for Enterprise Nation's interest in cycling? Well, we love to see growing markets that create new opportunities - and we're also working hard on a small business bid to secure sponsorship of the Boris Bikes! You can see a first snapshot of that here and there's more to come. Over the next few weeks, we'll announce the bid, profile bike businesses, and keep you updated on the opportunities for all small businesses should we be successful.
In his article, Sir Dave referred to the Tour as the three most intense weeks in the cycling calendar.
'The members of the team have to carry out their role clearly, enjoy it, and get the best out of themselves and each other.'
I hope we can take this onboard as the starting gun for the bid process is fired!
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation