Athletes Turned Entrepreneurs

Just in case our previous blog posts about the connection between sports and entrepreneurship weren’t enough, here is a list of famous athletes who went on to become successful entrepreneurs following the end of their playing careers.

·         Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan is arguably one of the most competitive athletes to ever play in the NBA and that competitive spirit has carried over into his career after basketball. As the founder of Nike’s Air Jordan Sneakers and owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan has experienced far greater financial success off the court than he did on it.
·         Greg Norman: Greg Norman is a former pro golfer from Australia who won 91 professional competitions over the course of his career. Now that his days of competitive golf are behind him, Norman is the chairman and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, a multinational corporation whose subsidiaries include Greg Norman Eyewear and Great White Shark Golf Management Consulting.
·         Maria Sharapova: Maria Sharapova has been a professional tennis player since she was a teenager, but her interests extend off the court as well. Sharapova founded the premium candy line Sugarpova in 2012 and now sells the product in over 30 countries worldwide. The popularity of Sugarpova coupled with her success on the court has made Sharapova the world’s highest paid female athlete.

Professional athletes are becoming more and more known for the business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit once their playing days are over. The reason they have succeeded in their post-career endeavors has not been because they were phenomenal athletes, but rather because they were able to utilize the skills that brought them athletic success in the business world.

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How Much Do Entrepreneurs and Athletes Have in Common?

Continuing our exploration of the relationship between sports and entrepreneurship, let’s discuss the types of qualities that successful athletes and entrepreneurs share. It seems that the personality traits that lead to success on the athletic field are the very same traits that lead to success in the business world.

·         Competitive Nature: In both business and athletics ventures, there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome in order to triumph. Whether the obstacle is an opposing team who just won a championship or a Fortune 500 company that happens to be a competitor, athletes and entrepreneurs never lose the desire to rise to the top.
·         Practice: There isn’t a person among us who hasn’t heard the age-old adage “practice makes perfect”. Just like athletes, entrepreneurs will have both strengths and weaknesses, but they can work towards perfection by practicing to the best of their ability. No entrepreneur or athlete can ever reach their true potential without continual practice.
·         Leadership: Every sports team has a captain who seeks to lead the team to victory. Every new business has a founder who seeks to steer the company towards success. The parallels between the two are more than apparent. Success in both the athletic and business worlds relies on the ability of leader’s to motivate their team to perform at the highest level possible.
·         Perseverance: One thing every athlete knows is that there is no easy way to the top. Everybody will lose and get knocked down at times. However, entrepreneurs and athletes share the same desire to get back up after a setback and keep fighting until their ultimate goal has been achieved.

The qualities mentioned above are just a few of the similar traits that are vital in the realms of sports and entrepreneurship. It is these qualities that differentiate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful entrepreneurs.  

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The World Cup and Your Business

About one month after the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we think it’s important to reflect on how sports might relate to entrepreneurship. The skills that are cultivated on a playing field are very similar to those skills required in starting a small business. Entrepreneurs may want to look at the basic principles of organized sports in order to ensure a greater level of success. Let’s take a look at what these principles might be!

1.      Building a Team
Similar to how a sports team cannot rely on a single player to lead the team to a win, a single player needs a support system of teammates in order to collectively lead to a win.  It is therefore important for you as an entrepreneur to surround yourself with business teammates who will both supplement your individual talents as well as celebrate your successes and support your visions. Furthermore, you should make sure to have teammates you provide you with encouragement as well as critical feedback—like sports teams do with their teammates.

2.      Find a Good Coach
Often times what happens in team sports is that the teammates themselves lose sight of the entire game. This is why teams always have a coach or a group of trainers guiding them and constantly giving them feedback and teaching them multiple strategies that can lead to a win. Likewise, an entrepreneur and his team should work closely with someone (or a group) of likeminded individuals not involved in the actual development of the business (similar to how a coach does not play the sport on the field). This will allow you to gain an outside perspective on your business plan and also gain insight on how you might improve your strategy.

3.      Setting Goals
Athletes tend to have multiple goals. Whether it’s becoming better at a particular position, winning that week’s game, or making it to a future championship game. Similarly, entrepreneurs should set both short-term and long-term goals. Setting goals increases one’s focus, which is essential in any team-based setting. By setting goals, entrepreneurs will constantly be required to review performance and adjust strategy in order to make sure that those goals are eventually met. This will also allow you to identify areas of opportunity or future growth—if you are successful at meeting your goals, how might you increase your success rate even more by altering your strategy or business plan? Or, should you keep it the same?

Have you or someone you know applied your experiences as an athlete to your business? Share your story!

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Implementing Technology Solutions on Your Own!

Competing in today’s business environment requires entrepreneurs to constantly keep up with technology in order to gather the necessary information to make the best business decisions. Integrating technology awareness into a business’s day-to-day agenda, will allow a company to flow more smoothly and efficiently.

Research has shown that companies can incorporate into their business a technology awareness strategy in four simple steps. Businesses can easily ensure that they have a competitive edge by following these four steps:
1.      Identifying their business needs
2.      Assessing the resources available to them
3.      Ranking the resources in order of usefulness
4.      Making the time to use the resource

Technology is an essential aspect of every business and “Do It Yourself (DIY) Web Technology” has recently become extremely popular with entrepreneurs in fulfilling their fundamental start-up needs. For example, Twitter’s new Bootstrap application offers entrepreneurs at any skill level an easy framework for web development. Bootstrap allows anyone to create a website on their own from start to finish, while minimizing the expenses that go with hiring a third party to carry out tasks that could easily be accomplished on one’s own!

Similarly, AfriDesign is an African company where business owners can monitor, track, and report their own business processes without the use of a third party. Similar to Twitter’s application, with AfriDesign business owners have the mobility and control over their own business operations, thus limiting costs. AfriDesign allows entrepreneurs to collect data more quickly and have information delivered to them in real-time anywhere and at anytime! This application is a great way to heighten tech awareness within a company as the business and its employees monitor all business processes themselves.

By identifying business needs and learning how to meet those needs on one’s own, companies can increase technology awareness and independence. Try integrating the technology awareness strategy to your business!

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Does Your Business Need a Social Media Makeover?

When was the last time your company updated its social media presence? If you’re not sure how to use social media to market your products and services, you aren’t alone. Many small businesses across all industries don’t have the budget that allows for extensive funding for marketing, leaving their social media presence to be minimal or even nonexistent. It’s okay! Since traditional marketing can be costly, social media marketing is extremely low-cost and can give you a direct line to current and prospective customers. Use this simple six-step guide to help you understand how marketing on a budget can work for you!

1.      Do your homework: Identify your target audience and specify your company message. What message are you exactly trying to address and how do you want your audience to react?
2.      Start small: Choose one or two social media platforms to start with and focus your energy on being consistent. Facebook and Twitter are a great place to start—they are both very easy to use almost everyone and every company has an account. You want to use platforms your readers are familiar with and you want to help your readers become familiar with your company so make sure you allocate enough time to providing them with necessary and sufficient information.
3.      Be cohesive in your efforts: Make sure all of the social media platforms that you choose to work with relay a similar message. Make sure that all social media outlets ultimately lead your audience to your company website.
4.      Stimulate conversation: Social media conversations are important. You want your audience to comment, ask questions and share information with others. This type of feedback and activity from readers allows the company to engage with both current and prospective customers. This also gives you the chance to turn any negative feedback into something positive.
5.      Get your days organized: Make sure you are updating all social media platforms daily. You should be commenting or adding content to Facebook every day and/or tweeting/retweeting 3-5 times per day.
6.      Get involved: Once you have established your presence online, join groups or communities and start following other companies. Initiate and participate in more conversations by asking questions and posting comments on other companies’ posts. This will help to target specific demographics. By doing this you are making your brand more personable and welcoming to new followers.

When using social media for your startup or small business, remember to start slow and take your time. In order to revamp and strengthen your company’s online marketing efforts, you don’t need a huge budget. All you need is time and focus in order to deliver your target audience the right information to ultimately lead them to your company’s website. Spinlet is an excellent example of an African company that started small, utilized social media to increase funding opportunities, and has now reached a global market. Follow the six steps outlined above and set your company up for success!

Read more about the different types of social media platforms your company might engage in here!

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