By Marianna Kazazi, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy
Elite athletes and entrepreneurs tend to have so much more in common than one would think. Elite athletes possess characteristics, habits and personality traits that help them succeed in sports, which can also be applied to the field of business.
Specifically, since sports require a lot of effort and sacrifices, athletes need to show discipline and dedication- traits directly related to the business environment and to the way successful entrepreneurs work. Athletes and entrepreneurs are known to be risk-takers who are not afraid to fail. They will always get up and try again until they succeed, with great resilience. A great example of an athlete showing resilience is freestyle swimmer Tom Dean, who struggled with Covid-19 twice ahead of the Olympics. Dean focused on training, once he recovered, and became a gold medalist. This type of resilience and determination can be considered as the foundation of entrepreneurship, in an ever-changing business environment.
Additionally, athletes have a goal-oriented and self-driven approach to their sport, adjusting their lifestyle in regards to their food, sleep and preparation, among other things, with the ultimate aim being the achievement of their goals. Goal-orientation is a common characteristic of some of the world’s most outstanding entrepreneurs.
Another trait, which is more closely associated with team sports, is teamwork. Being a team player when it comes to entrepreneurship is an extremely important skill, fostering innovation and creativity, through the sharing of new ideas, developing creativity and efficiency. Being part of a team, means that people with different strengths come together to complement one another towards the collective achievement of a common objective.
Competitiveness is a winning motivator for athletes, and it even has a positive impact on their self-awareness, by evaluating how things went and striving to become better than their competitors. This characteristic can contribute to the improvement of business endeavors by entrepreneurs, as it helps them become more aware of their strengths and areas in need of improvement, so they can act accordingly. Additionally, it helps expand their knowledge through research and this eventually, boosts productivity and performance. Athletes do not ever stop practicing to improve themselves- they work harder every day to achieve a spot on the pitch, to win a competition, trying to be the best at what they do. The same applies to entrepreneurs who constantly need to educate themselves and practice lifelong learning to maintain a competitive advantage and keep up with the constantly evolving business environment.
A further trait that is common between athletes and entrepreneurs, is mental toughness. Maintaining a calm mindset when they find themselves in a stressful situation allows them to not only cope and work under pressure but to be more productive as well, in an attempt to reach their full potential. This also relates to the growth mindset athletes cultivate when they come across several challenges. A growth mindset is essential in entrepreneurship, since challenges are the norm in the business environment, and having the power to act in order to overcome them and return stronger than before is crucial.
Another athletic characteristic concerning mindsets, is confidence and a winning attitude. This commitment to win can act as an advantage in the business field, as entrepreneurs are expected to repeatedly try and find new ways to gain a competitive advantage in the business industry, by seeking features which will differentiate them from competitors in an attempt to ultimately achieve the outcomes they want.
The need for coaching and constant mentoring is a way of life for athletes with mentors being their support mechanism in overcoming challenges but most importantly in reminding them of their goals and the ways to achieve them. The exact same approach applies to entrepreneurs, who need to create their own support groups of people who inspire them and have their best interests in mind.
All the aforementioned characteristics can contribute to a bright career in business and entrepreneurship for the elite athlete. However, in order to achieve that, constant education and self-improvement are vital to entrepreneurial growth.
The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes. For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.