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The Interplay of Sport and Entrepreneurs

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The sporting industry has become a huge business; from merchandise to ticket sales, endorsements to cable channels.

The business of sports is an industry that generates billions of dollars of revenue every year. The business is often referred to as a game, where the winner is the entrepreneur who finds success.

In this case, the playing field is the office and the players are the companies that compete for the customers.

Make no mistake – the competition within the ranks of business is just as fierce as on a field, and the antics of business entrepreneurs can be strikingly similar to famous athletes.

There are certain similarities between the world of entrepreneurs and the world of athletes; parallels that dictate the successes on the playing field of economics. The interrelation between the characteristics of an athlete and that of an entrepreneur are particularly interesting to investigate.

The 7 Characteristics 

  • Passion 
    • Most entrepreneurs are driven by a passion for their business. It is the force that keeps them burning the midnight oil, working weekends and holidays. A sincere belief that the work they are doing is important can keep the entrepreneur working through rough times. Similarly, athletes who succeed in their sport exhibit a passion for their sport. Generally characterized by the person who ‘eats, sleeps and dreams’ about their sport, they are passionate about playing the game they love.


  • Tenacity 
    • When things are going well, it is easy to go to work. The successful entrepreneur, however, continues to work even when things get difficult. When faced with failure, the entrepreneur refuses to give up and will find ways to be successful, despite roadblocks that may occur. In the same sense, the athlete who wishes to move beyond the ‘weekend warrior’ status must possess a level of tenacity. Tenacity drives the athlete to continue to train even in the off-season, and to return to the game even after an injury.


  • Vision 
    • Seeing a path to success is a trait that entrepreneurs possess. In spite of naysayers, the entrepreneur can set a path towards the vision that they have for their business. A successful athlete has a clear vision of themselves as a winner. They can envision the end result of the game – and they have the victory. Regardless of the odds stacked against them, they are single-minded in their vision.


  • Self-confidence 
    • An entrepreneur has the confidence that they will be able to succeed, and is more willing to take risks because of that self-confidence. They know that they are in a unique position to succeed, due to their confidence in their abilities. To engage in a game where thousands of others have played, and determine that one will be the best player requires a level of self-confidence many athletes do not possess. The ones who use their self-confidence as a tool will enjoy a higher level of success.


  • Flexibility 
    • The role of an entrepreneur demands flexibility. Being able to make changes, take on additional job responsibilities or move the business in a different direction is a key characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. Playing a game professionally requires flexibility: weather conditions, playing arenas, field position, team-mates, coaching staffs are all variables that can change without warning. Being able to remain flexible is imperative for the successful athlete.


  • Rule-breaking 
    • A willingness to break the rules is another important aspect of a successful entrepreneur. By defying conventional wisdom, the entrepreneur is able to create new technologies, processes and products that revolutionize the business world. And while the rules of the game can’t be broken, the athlete must be willing to break the rules of society that try to discourage someone from reaching greatness. The athlete must be one who refuses to follow the set path towards mediocrity.


  • Tolerance for fear
    •  It can be frightening to assume the risk of starting a business, venture into an unknown field or ask for funding for a product that doesn’t yet exist. The entrepreneur must be able to move beyond the fear by harnessing it and using it as fuel. For the athlete, it can be overwhelming to train for years for the opportunity to perform at the highest level of athleticism. Competing in large scale arenas, against legendary athletes, may allow fear to cripple an athlete. The successful athlete, however, moves beyond the fear and still performs.


Not only are these seven characteristics key to the interplay of sport and entrepreneurial instincts, a closer look at the following five elements highlights the personality traits of a true entrepreneur.


The 5 Elements

  • The Competitive Nature 
    • Sports and business ventures overlapped, because one always faces challenges and will not give up until they succeed in the face of obstacles. More importantly, a competitive nature becomes instilled in the mind; you believe winning is everything and that second place is for losers. Our minds shift gears towards rising to the top and we refuse not to dominate in the realm of business and sports. This competitive nature never departs our minds, and we perfect everything just to make sure we keep our positions at the top of the ladder. Only athletes effectively utilize this nature and often carry over their passion and potential into their respective work world.


  • Leadership 
    • There will always be a designated leader of a team, and if you are reading this you are most likely that elite leader. The team’s performance relies entirely on the leader’s ability to motivate others and perform at their own best. No team in the history of sports has ever gone on to win a championship without a great leader on their team. Therefore, an elite entrepreneur follows the same duties as an athlete and must lead his company to the top of the industry. An entrepreneur must take charge of the team and steer the ship home safely. Companies’ future rests on the back of the leader; their mental toughness must endure through thick and thin. Although business and sports leadership occupy two different categories, the potential abilities are definitely synonymous.


  • Pressure 
    • In sports, one routinely comes across situations filled with extreme pressure, where every single move dictates the total outcome of the game. Some games come down to the wire and no one is ever perfect. Nonetheless, you face these battles and make decisions that can have major rewards and consequences. A player’s value is judged by how well he can handle pressure and stay clam throughout a game. Time and time again, we have seen great players choke under pressure, but true greatness can last through pressure. In business, one deals with many tasks that could have huge impacts on peoples lives. As a leader of your company, your employees depend on you and your ability to make appropriate decisions. Deadlines become a huge factor and can heighten the feeling of pressure. A true leader must know how buckle down, use the mental toughness to follow through and ultimately succeed.


  • Practice 
    • No athlete can reach their true potential without practice. All must practice at their highest ability and continually work to perfect their game. In addition, athletics raise their caliber by strengthening the weaker aspects of their game. An entrepreneur will have both strengths and weaknesses, but must always work like a perfectionist to transform their weaknesses into more strengths. Perfection is essential key for success.


  • Perseverance 
    • Everyone possesses many obstacles in their way before they are crowned the victor. Some obstacles will be overwhelming demanding, but perseverance, drive and heart keeps a leader going and fighting for their ultimate goal. We all know that the field of business is not the easiest game on the planet. An entrepreneur will have to jump over tough hurdles to come even close to the finish line. Much like sports, nothing is ever given to you, and you will struggle for every single thing you want to accomplish. One needs some perseverance and mental toughness to get through all the rough patches that lie in the path.


If you’ve ever played sports, you are a natural entrepreneur. The skills cultivated on any playing field will continue to serve you professionally, well beyond competitive sports.

Entrepreneurs can benefit from tapping into their experience working with a team, applying lessons from a coach, working toward common goals and utilizing a healthy competitive spirit.

Additionally, entrepreneurs can also learn from successful athletes, and train using the principles of organized sports to achieve results at the next level; build a team, find a coach, set short and long-term goals.

Athletic self-starters do not gain success because they are in better shape then others. They prove themselves off the court with their focused mentality and competitive nature that you can only attain through a participation in a sport.

Entrepreneurs prove to be efficient leaders and their success is 85% dependent on how well they can run their organization at the maximum level of productivity.

With success behind names such as George Foreman, Dave Bing, Roger Staubach, Tony Hawk, and Wayne Gretzky, it is easy to see the natural entrepreneurship flowing from the sporting background.


This article was written by Lucy Harkin and sourced from the following:

© 2014 | Elite Daily

© 2014 | Entrepreneurial Insights

© 2014 | Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)

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