Why winning in sport is just like succeeding in business

Swiss canoeist Mike Kurt enjoyed a successful and lengthy career at the top of his sport but regularly struggled to find funding. After a disappointing Olympic Games at London 2012 Mike joined forces with Swiss fencer Fabian Kauter to set up a crowdfunding platform specifically for athletes, I believe in you. Here, Mike gives his advice on how you can make the most of your current skills in a career off the field of play.

  • Swiss slalom canoeist and three-time Olympian Mike Kurt struggled to attract funding throughout his career, despite competing at the top level of his sport.
  • Having co-founded successful crowdfunding platform I believe in you, Mike believes there are plenty of parallels between winning in sport and succeeding at business.
  • Read his expert advice, and then kick-start your own entrepreneur journey with the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.

Turn negatives into positives

I was always one of the only canoeists in the world, and definitely the only one in the top 10, who was having to work at the same time. The funding in our sport is not as good as many others, especially in Switzerland, so I was always forced to look after financial resources myself. I had very flexible employers who allowed me to train and compete – but it was challenging. [After London 2012] I was working in a fundraising company and the whole topic of crowdfunding came up – and we basically had the idea to implement crowdfunding in sports.

Use your credibility

When somebody like Fabian or I talk about funding, we automatically get a lot of credibility, because we know what it’s like [to struggle as an athlete]. Even if we are not household names, we will probably have more credibility than if Roger Federer was talking about sports funding, because everybody will just say that he can raise millions a year himself.

Transfer your skills

There are a lot of skills that you learn in sport that can help in business, like being very focused on your target or working very, very hard. I think, for myself, the most important thing is probably that I was able to take the drive, the passion and fascination that I used to have for my sport into my work as well.

Stay humble

One of the biggest things you can take from sport is that you’re able to handle defeat. You always have to be humble – be aware that it’s another world and there are other requirements.

Don’t wait too long

Athletes have so much time while they are still training, especially when they are full-time athletes, and I think you need to really use that time to prepare your second career. Don’t just stop your sport and then have no idea what to do next.

Thinking about setting up a business and looking for a place to start? The Athlete365 Business Accelerator could be the perfect tool for you. Take a step-by-step online course to develop your own business plan and then put yourself forward for the opportunity to receive specialist business mentorship and advice.