The same qualities that have driven you to succeed in your sport could help you thrive in the business world.
Supported by evidence, we look at five attributes that can translate into a successful business career.
Take advantage of a unique opportunity to make the most of these skills with the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.
You’re always looking to improve
Whether it’s achieving a qualifying time for the Olympic Games, or trying to get your product to market, athletes and entrepreneurs both feed off the adrenaline and excitement of facing a challenge – and then completing it.
Businesses can’t afford to stand still for long, and your innate instinct to keep improving is a valuable skill that you shouldn’t underestimate. For much of your career, you will constantly be analysing your performances, assessing which areas to focus on and how to improve. This type of self-reflection and motivation is treasured in the business world – and especially so when starting your own business.
It’s something that freestyle skier Lydia Lassila drew strength from when turning a career-threatening injury into opportunity by launching her own range of recovery products. “As an athlete, the responsibility is always on you to perform well,” she says. “No one else can help you do that. You have to back yourself. I think that’s a really important trait to have in business as well.”
You’re not afraid of failure
You have the ability to use defeats as motivation to get up and try again – if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be an elite athlete. In fact, resilience is one of five winning traits identified by EY in their Why female athletes make winning entrepreneurs report. The ability to recover from setbacks is a fundamental part of being an athlete and is vital in business, too.
The legendary basketball player Michael Jordan once said: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It’s the same in business, with entrepreneurs finding motivation in obstacles. Failure gives you an opportunity to start again – only this time, you will be wiser for your experiences.
You’ve got the networks
To succeed in sport, many of you rely on expert guidance from your entourage, with trusted allies such as coaches, mentors, partners and team-mates offering advice and encouragement to help you reach your goals. Using these support networks is vital to any successful business – and especially important for when you’re looking to get an idea off the ground. The good thing is, you already have these networks established and ready to be utilised.
A vital part of any business plan is refining and testing your idea, involving potential customers in the process to hone your product and make it a success. An entire module of the Athlete365 Business Accelerator online course is focused on utilising this collective intelligence. Don’t be afraid to turn to the people who have supported you in your sporting career to help you on your business journey.
It’s something that two-time mountain biking Olympian Lea Davison took full advantage of when starting up her non-profit mentoring business, Little Bellas. “I used a lot of my contacts within the sport to help Little Bellas get started,” explains Lea. “You’re already in an excellent position to utilise your contacts and networks in support of your start-up idea. If you find someone or a group of people eager to stand by your side, you can create a dynamic process that brings success.”
You think in the same way
recent report by The Adecco Group on why the corporate world is turning to athletes identifies, in sport, where the winning margins can come down to minuscule differentials, creative and lateral thinking can help you find new ways to improve. This kind of creativity is in high demand in the business world, and it’s something that you might not even know you’re already good at.
“As an athlete, you’re trying to negotiate the landscape to make your goals come true,” says Angel Bovee, a former boxer and a career coach for the US Athlete Career & Education Programme. “So, when they get into the workplace, they’re self-starters who bring ideas to the floor.”
You have a world-class work ethic
Even if you have all the natural talent in the world – or a great business idea – if you don’t work hard you’ll never see it come to fruition. Athletes and entrepreneurs share the same discipline and dedication to put in the hours to reach their goals. In both business and sport, the ones who succeed are the ones who keep fighting when others may have given up.
Not only that, but confidence and self-belief have their part to play. It takes confidence in your ability to win an Olympic gold medal, just as it takes unwavering conviction in your business to make it a success.
“If you’re crazy enough to choose a sporting career as an athlete, you can definitely manage an entrepreneurial career,” says Brice Leverdez, a two-time Olympian who also set up his own fashion label. “It’s a question of hard work and confidence.”
Are you ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey? Kick-start your dream of starting a business with the Athlete365 Business Accelerator. Make the most of your skills and your passion to develop your own personal business plan from idea to reality, starting with a step-by-step, free-to-use online course.