Money Smart Athlete Blog

Athletic Entrepreneurship: Using your Brand to Build Business

By Demetris Constantinou, Contributor

When we think about entrepreneurs, we tend to concentrate on people that came up with new ideas and innovations that have shaped our lives in different ways. While this is a core determinant of what an entrepreneur is, it excludes a big fraction of entrepreneurship that has been on the rise the past couple of decades: Athletic Entrepreneurship. This form of entrepreneurship, rather than focusing on providing life-changing innovations and solutions, emphasizes on creating value by leveraging an athlete’s unique brand and mindset. In this article, we will concentrate on how athletes can pursue their own unique form of entrepreneurship by exploiting their brand as well as several distinctive characteristics of their athletic careers.

One of the aspects that makes professional athletes able to naturally evolve in being entrepreneurs is their distinct brand. The athletes’ brand is essentially the backbone of Athletic Entrepreneurship and the core pillar which athletes tend to build on in order to become successful entrepreneurs. Simply put, a professional athlete that’s become recognized in their sport, is able to capitalize on that fame by moving to the entrepreneurial level. At that level, there are no rules about what you can achieve and how to achieve it but there are ways to best align your brand with value-generating ideas. Another important aspect that makes athletes great entrepreneurs is the mindset they cultivate throughout their professional career. Successful athletes have common characteristics that are vital to becoming an entrepreneurial champion. Such characteristics involve a winner’s mentality, a legend’s attitude and a soldier’s discipline and dedication. Nevertheless, having both the brand and the attitude are not sufficient to becoming an entrepreneur as the athlete needs to be able to use these advantages in a constructive and value-generating approach.

Throughout the years, many athletes in all range of sports have utilized both their brands as well as their set of skills in pursuit of creating value. The most common ways athletes seek to create value have been either through building their own businesses or creating synergies to promote other products and brands. The way towards athletic entrepreneurship is not a one-way street but rather a carefully executed plan based on the athletes’ abilities, strengths and overall influence in their sport. To put things into perspective, we will list several athletes, examine how they’ve pursued athletic entrepreneurship and why they chose to pursue it in such a way.

An athlete who could also be known as the king of athletic entrepreneurship is the famous American football quarterback Tom Brady. Tom Brady has basically combined everything that we’ve discussed in the above paragraphs in his pursuit of athletic entrepreneurship. Initially, he used his fame as one of the best quarterbacks to strike a massive endorsement deal with Under Armour through which he manages to generate value both for himself as well as the athletic apparel brand. Moving on, Brady leveraged his fame as a long-lasting sports player who lives a healthy lifestyle and wrote a book called “The TB12 Method: How to achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance”. The book emphasizes on how one can create a lifestyle like Tom Brady and has even been included in the New York Times’ best seller list. Both the endorsement deal with Under Armour and the TB12 Book are exceptional forms of athletic entrepreneurship and they both place Brady’s brand and lifestyle at the core of their existence.

An equally successful athletic entrepreneurial story is the one of Tennis champion Maria Sharapova. Unlike Brady, Sharapova has taken a less conventional approach towards athletic entrepreneurship through creating her own candy brand “Sugarpova” and promoting luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. While Sharapova became famous for her excellence in Tennis, she used that to promote her love of sweets as well as her appreciation for quality jewelry.  After building the image of candy lover, Maria Sharapova was in the best position to create her own candy brand and promote it as the candy which everyone should have after a long day of training or work. Using the same strategy, Sharapova leveraged her fame to promote luxury jewel wear and created a synergy with the mother of luxury brands, Tiffany & Co. The goal of this partnership is simple: to influence her fans, especially women athletes, that it’s important to always strive to look their best, by wearing what’s best.

While there are numerous successful athlete-entrepreneurs who have pursued entrepreneurship in different ways, it’s important to understand what has driven their ability to become entrepreneurs and why they chose to do it in the way they did. Brady wrote a book not because he just thought it would be a cool idea, but because he could appeal to new people, who might not follow him as an American football player, but who have a passion for living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Same applies for Maria Sharapova, her partnership with Tiffany’s allowed her to expand her reach and influence in new markets and be able to influence all women, regardless of whether they follow tennis or not. In short, athletes pursue entrepreneurship in ways that leverage their athletic excellence to essentially promote their individuality and through that, they recycle athletic value and build societal and monetary value.

For more information on athletic entrepreneurship and how an athlete can use their brand to build value, you can get in touch with us at [email protected].