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Bahamian long jumper Jackie Edwards competed in five successive Olympic Games before an Achilles tear in 2009 forced retirement. After stepping aside from sport, she drew on her painful experience to launch her own business – making the most of her experience as an athlete to forge a new career. A chat with a friend sparked the start of what is now a fledgeling maternity business, Tootsies, which supplies a range of compression socks for pregnant women.
- Having competed in five Olympic Games in the long jump, injury forced Jackie Edwards into an early retirement.
- Since leaving the world of competitive sport, Jackie has launched a new career with her own line of specialist sports clothing.
- Read her advice on making the most of your athlete skillset, and then start your own entrepreneur journey with the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.
Identify a problem, find a solution
The idea for Tootsies came about after a conversation with a pregnant friend. She was complaining her legs were swollen, so I gave her a pair of compression socks. The next day she rang me and said they had really helped with the swelling – and that marked the beginning of my business idea.
I used compression socks regularly throughout my athletics career to increase blood circulation, reduce soreness in my legs after training and speed up recovery – so I know all about their benefits.
Use your athlete skillset
I’m a psychology graduate from Stanford University and have a master’s degree in sports psychology, and studying taught me all about focus, motivation and setting goals.
You need all three to be a successful athlete, and the same applies when you are setting up a business. You have to have a clear vision of where you want to get and exactly how you are going to get there.
You’re no stranger to hard work and sacrifice, and that also helps in the world of business. The big difference as an athlete is that you’re only reliant on yourself, while in business you have to deal with third parties, suppliers and printers who aren’t always as passionate about what you’re doing as you are. That can be hard to come to terms with.
Never stop learning
It’s crucial to never stop learning. I think I’ve come a long way since I first got the idea for Tootsies, but that doesn’t mean I or the business are the finished article.
Keep talking to as many entrepreneurs and business people as you can, because you will be amazed at how much incredible insight you can get into things like branding, marketing and advertising.
I’d also stress how important it is to embrace social media, even if it’s not initially your thing. The opportunities social media presents are almost unlimited, and if no one knows about your business, it doesn’t matter how good your product is.
Do you have a business idea that you want to put into action? The Athlete365 Business Accelerator will help you develop your own personal business plan from idea into reality, starting with a step-by-step, free-to-use online course.