Do Athletes Make the Best Entrepreneurs?

Magic JohnsonIts hard to define the experience and traits that make a successful entrepreneur, but for those traits that are most obvious, there seems to be a significant overlap with behaviors honed by athletes.

On a most basic level athletes learn to define themselves as parts of a team. At an early age athletes understand the importance of being chosen for a team and how to integrate with the group. The best athletes then become savvy at recognizing talent and choosing their own teams. As one progresses to the more advanced stages of sport, it becomes necessary to continue to refine skills related to teamwork.

As the next step of progression, the best athletes teach themselves to inspire and motivate. They realize the importance of a team and understand their role within a team. Athletes understand how team interaction can impact performance, which is one of the most vital aspects of a start-up environment or any other business.

Athletes seek a regimented, scheduled lifestyle. They create a scheduled lifestyle with a calendar of regular tasks. This is an ideal mindset for any struggling entrepreneur. In an environment that can quickly overwhelm, its important for entrepreneurs to make such schedules in order to keep their teams on task.

Upon further progression, athletes learn to take advantage of opportunity. A dropped ball, missed coverage, an errant shot, these are all areas that athletes are trained to see as opportunities. At times when the most cool-minded executives might stop to take a look around and survey the situation, an athlete is trained to push hard and take advantage of an opportunity created by a competitor’s error.

Persistence and perseverance are two traits that are of vital importance to an entrepreneur. The traits allow entrepreneurs to push through when things get tough. Fighting to find an audience for your product or service is a constant struggle for any entrepreneur. A successful athlete is defined by their ability to persevere under difficult conditions. An athlete learns to take a loss and move on. Like any successful entrepreneur, athletes find out how to bounce back, understanding that there are many opportunities to win.

In the throes of entrepreneurism and the world of sports there is always another challenge. Just as a business knows that constant refinement and reinvention is necessary for any product life cycle, an athlete knows that there is always another game or challenge. Winning, or succeeding, isn’t enough. There is always another level to tackle. This mindset allows athletes to excel in the world of start-ups.

Of course, there are challenges as well. Discomfort is a word that could easily describe the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Your almost always short of cash, there’s always more to be done, and nothing is ever good enough. This is the type of discomfort, pain, and fatigue that characterizes the life of an athlete. At athlete is used to the grind. They’re aware of the day-in and day-out struggle for success.

This information isn’t to suggest that all athletes will develop into successful entrepreneurs or that entrepreneurs will find success if they focus on their athletic abilities. Instead, the blog is an attempt to identify the fundamental qualities that will position an entrepreneur for success and simultaneously identify experiences or situations that hone those skills. In the end the success of any entrepreneur is dependent on a multitude of factors and the environment itself. The right skill set and experience may increase your likelihood for success, but no level of preparation or background fully mitigates the risk surrounding the world of start-up ventures.

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