5 athletes accelerating in business

Successful athletes have a lot in common, as do successful business people – but that doesn’t mean that they got to the top of their field via the same path. Entrepreneurship comes in many forms, and here we’ve picked out five athletes that have taken quite different journeys from athlete to entrepreneur. To coincide with the launch of the Athlete365 Business Accelerator, over the next few weeks look out for a wealth of articles showcasing athletes who have taken steps in the business world using their existing skill-sets and experience as launchpads for new careers.

  • There are many inspiring examples of athletes who have successfully made the transition from sport into the business world.
  • To mark the start of our Athlete365 Business Accelerator campaign, we’ve picked out five athletes with inspiring stories of how they started their business careers.
  • Read about their experiences and then kick-start your own entrepreneurial journey by signing up to our free-to-use online course.


Lydia Lassila: injury to enterprise

Lydia Lassila retired from sport as an Olympic freestyle skiing gold medallist, but there was a point where injury threatened to cut short her career before it had truly taken off. While battling with coming to terms with her setback, a light-bulb moment led Lydia to turn her injury into opportunity, going on to develop the BodyICE range of heat and ice packs specially designed for athletes. Lydia’s story is a great example of how you can use the skills and experience you already have as an athlete off the field of play to get ahead in the business world.

Lea Davison: sport and social issues

One of the key rules of starting your own business is that it should be something you’re passionate about. Mountain biker and two-time Olympian Lea Davison saw a lack of female representation in her sport and decided to do something about it, co-founding Little Bellas – a non-profit mentoring programme that helps young women and girls to realise their potential through cycling. Lea acknowledges that there were plenty of obstacles and setbacks in getting the business up-and-running, but – by channelling the resilience and work ethic that had supported her sporting career – Little Bellas has gone on to become a sustainable and empowering national organisation.

Mike Dawson: using business to fund your sporting dream

When Mike Dawson lost his funding in the lead up to Rio 2016, the New Zealand canoeist was forced to look elsewhere to support his Olympic ambitions. Pulling together his passion for food and his experience of travelling the world as an athlete, Mike released his own cookbook, ‘Eat Like The Locals’. Mike reflects that it was the skills and experience that he developed as an athlete that allowed him to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and says that it’s something you can look to do too.

Jackie Edwards: identify a problem, find a solution

All good business plans are founded on one thing: solving a problem. That’s just what five-time Olympian Jackie Edwards did when a conversation with a pregnant friend gave her the idea for what is now a successful specialist sports clothing business. With her friend complaining of swollen legs, Jackie used her knowledge of recovery to develop her own brand of maternity compression socks, Tootsies, having used compression socks throughout her own career. The now-retired Jackie took the jump into the world of business and hasn’t looked back since.

Steve Hooker: success is a case of trial and error

Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker retired from sport with an Olympic gold medal, but it took him some time to find his feet again. Going through four different jobs in quick succession might seem like a failure to some, but transitioning away from sport is not always a smooth process and Steve is quick to express that going through the stop-start journey of finding the right role for him was crucial in getting him to a place where he feels as fulfilled as he did as an athlete.

Are you ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey? Kick-start your dream of launching a business by exploring the Athlete365 Business Accelerator. Make the most of your skills and passion to develop your own personal business plan from idea to reality, starting with a step-by-step, free-to-use online course.