Money Smart Athlete Blog

Setting up a business, parallel to your sports career

By Niovie Constantinou, Contributor

As previously discussed, a sports career brings with it a lot of uncertainty, and so proactivity is the key to ensuring long term financial stability. In the past, most sports professionals would venture to the business world post sports career, but a common problem was that many were unable to put their income to good use and some even ended up bankrupt, such as Diego Maradona and Mike Tyson. Over the past few years the trend has started shifting and athletes are now diversifying into the business world while still at the top of their game. For example, Lebron James is not only a basketball superstar but also a businessman who holds a minority stake in Liverpool FC, a $1 million investment in pizza chain Blaze Pizza and whose small stake in audio brand Beats By Dr. Dre generated $30 million when it was acquired by Apple in 2014.

Since a career in sports may be short lived and there is always the risk of injuries that may bring a promising career to an abrupt end, it is not absurd that sports professionals have started setting up their own business as early as possible. Lonzo Ball, a 19-year-old basketball rookie, has foregone a professional shoe contract with a major apparel company in order to set up his own brand, as he believed that it would give better returns in the long run.

Indeed, the current generation of sports professionals are starting to think about how to best maximize their income early on in their career, and if the Lonzo Ball example is anything to go by, they should start even younger. It is therefore important that young athletes are aware of the difficulties posed by their career in sports and that they need to pursue alternative career options as early as possible. In this respect, as a young sports professional you should:

  • Think about the industry and type of business you would be interested in. Do you have any skills or knowledge that might be helpful? Are there any courses that you could take that would better equip you to venture out on your own? Start researching your options and gathering all the necessary experiences and qualifications that will enable you to pursue your business of choice. Perhaps you could even consult with a professional career consultant who may point you towards the right direction.
  • Diversify: your business does not necessarily have to relate to the sports industry and you do not have to wholly depend on one source of income. You may want to make different investments in various industries. You could of course set up a sports related business and become e.g. a coach, or start a sports magazine, but you may also wish to invest in the latest technological advances, or open up a new restaurant.
  • Set up a financial plan. Once you have decided what you would like to do, you need to think about financing: it may best to seek assistance from financial advisors on how to finance your new business venture(s) and how to ensure long term yields from your investments.
  • Use your personal brand to promote your business. Now that you are at the peak of your career, you have the opportunity to get in touch with your fans through various media streams, as well as in-person appearances so that your business/ product gains publicity. You can even approach any contacts you have made who may help with promotion, financing, expansion etc. Do not be afraid to ask for help – who can better market your own business than yourself?

For more information and direction when pursuing a business parallel to your sports career, you may get in touch with us at [email protected]