There are entrepreneurs, and then there are successful entrepreneurs — and the difference between the two is the skillset and the mindset they possess. Anyone can start a business, but not everyone can be successful in that business. This is the reason you may see many startups at any given point in time, but after some years, only a few will flourish. What is it that makes an entrepreneur successful?
Some learn the skills needed, and some are born with it, but no one really succeeds without working for it. This is synonymous with athletes. No one is born an athlete, but some are born with athletic talent, which they later hone throughout life. In any case, there is no idle state on the road to success in either athletics or entrepreneurship.
To enter the sphere of entrepreneurship, one needs to take a page or two out of the book of an athlete! How an athlete leads a life is a great guide to become a successful entrepreneur. The athlete-entrepreneur correlation can be termed as a success model, as many athletes have proved it worldwide. Many athletes have started their own business ventures and have succeeded because the skills and mindset learned on the court or field were embodied in their business startup as well.
Let’s look at why great entrepreneurs can be made from athletes.
Confidence is a trait that helps one succeed in any domain in life but more so in athletics. If an athlete is confident in their ability to perform at a maximum level, then no matter what the result, nothing can bring them down. Athletes tend to have a winning mindset. This eliminates the negativity, the factor that acts as the most significant obstacle towards success. An athlete never puts in the halfhearted effort and is confident in his own ability to push through no matter what; therefore, even a loss does not become a hindrance on the path to success.
This quality is instrumental in becoming a successful entrepreneur. When you are confident in your venture and put in the necessary effort, then you need to believe in your success as well. The setbacks will only strengthen. Just like an athlete does not let the weather or an opponent’s performance define his/her performance, a successful entrepreneur will not allow the market factors to decide the worth of the business idea.
The confidence in their own ability to push the concept and the business through will ensure its success too. A confident entrepreneur uses a setback as a stepping ladder just as an athlete uses a loss to bounce back stronger.
2. Perseverance and Tenacity
Athletes usually have a short-lived career because of the limitations of the human body. Humans can perform at an optimal level up until a certain age. Where most careers span 40 plus years, athletes who are at their prime for 20 years are considered lucky.
Those athletes who are at a high for a couple of years and then go towards a rapid decline until they just stop participating cannot make for successful entrepreneurs. The reason is the lack of an essential quality that makes for a great athlete and an entrepreneur, i.e. perseverance.
Confidence, combined with perseverance, takes an athlete to significant levels of success. Persistent effort always pays off. Whether the aim is on or off the field or a combination of both, being persistent will always pay dividends. The result may not always be what you are hoping for, but perseverance is a trait that teaches you to believe in your own self. It strengthens the mind to the degree that it becomes able to tackle any kind of adverse situation.
Many a time, someone running a business will feel like giving up when a deal isn’t clinched or when the market is in a slump. However, if it is an athlete who encounters such a scenario, he/she will never back down but will instead push forward just for another day, another week, another month or another year. Backing off or stopping is not in the book of the athletes, and that’s why they can make great entrepreneurs.
3. Work Ethic
There is an unspoken and unwritten ethical code in the world of sports, and all successful athletes abide by it. If the work ethic is off, then it is evident that talent alone is not going to get anyone far. It is the same in the business world; a business idea alone is not going to ensure success unless the ethical code of work is practiced and followed.
A highly talented athlete will have a defined routine, practice, and diet to follow to succeed. It is so often observed that individual athletes are naturally gifted in their chosen sport, but they are not willing to put in the required effort — they do not respect the game and the body that is playing the game. As a result, they are unable to perform well, and eventually, their talent also withers away.
On the other hand, there is an athlete who gets up early in the morning, has a specific kind of meal, practices for a certain period, abstains from all those activities or food that can harm the body, and indulges in healthy activities, that is one who respects the work ethic.
This ideology of an athlete, when translated in the business world, ensures success because of this respect for work ethics. Every activity receives due attention and effort, and as a result, the business thrives.
4. Team Work
Whether it is a team sport or an individual sport, teamwork is at the core of an athlete’s life. Everyone has a defined role that must be followed diligently to ensure excellent performance. A successful team is referred to as a well-oiled machine; it does not stop or creak and provides excellent output. An athlete is probably the best person to know the importance of teamwork.
If one member is unaware of the specific duties or is unable to perform at a level consistently, the whole team will suffer. This ability of athletes is well translated into an entrepreneurial environment as well, where an athlete’s awareness of loopholes forms a better team. An athlete is more aware of troubleshooting procedures in teamwork, thus increasing the chances of success even in difficult times.
5. Focus and Goal Orientation
Focus on the end goal is what makes athletes and entrepreneurs thrive in their respective domains. An athlete knows that the end goal is to win and so he/she builds the whole mindset and routine around that. If the goal is clear, it is even easier to achieve it. If an athlete is in a sport merely to participate, that is his/her goal, and it’s one that is not hard to achieve. However, if the goal is to win, then a whole strategy must be planned out, work needs to be done, and focus needs to be on the end goal alone, i.e. to win.
An athlete has a well-honed strategy of winning by focusing on the goal, and this strategy, when applied in the field of business, also helps the entrepreneur win. Focus helps win games, and focus is what makes businesses successful as well.
A successful athlete never stops learning because he/she knows that to succeed, one must be better than the day before. It does not matter to the athlete where he/she is learning from; it can be from a mentor, a rival/competitor, a former athlete or through a formal learning program (there are campus-based and online athletic administration degree programs).
What is essential to an athlete is that their skills and knowledge are being enhanced to succeed. This learning mindset works equally well in the business field, which is why many athletes steal the limelight even in supersaturated businesses and work efficiently as entrepreneurs.