It’s no secret that the career of a professional athlete tends to be shorter than that of people in other fields. This makes sense. After all, playing a sport at the highest level requires a degree of physical fitness that no one can maintain forever. That’s why it’s important for sports pros to consider what they plan on doing for a living after hanging up their jersey.
Many find that starting their own business is the ideal path. In fact, statistics indicate that as many as 23% of retired NFL players run their own small business—it’s the most common career path for those leaving the sport.
There’s a reason entrepreneurship is a trend among retiring athletes. These individuals often have unique skill sets and resources that make them particularly well suited to the demands of launching and leading an organization. The following are just some of the major factors that contribute to their strength in the business world.
In sports, goals are not vague—the athlete has to score more, get to the finish line faster, or display better technique than their competitors. Players know exactly what they must achieve in order to succeed, whether they’re competing on their own or as part of a team. With their goal in mind, they develop and execute the strategies necessary to reach it.
Goal setting is also very important for entrepreneurs. Successful business owners need to create goals and then make specific plans for achieving them. Thus, it helps to have someone running a business who already has experience with this type of thinking.
Access to Capital
Quite simply, it takes a lot of money to start a business. Some people can’t justify the risk of taking out loans, but some pro athletes are in a position to avoid such risk.
A professional athlete can earn a substantial income. If they’re smart with their money, they could have a lot left over after retiring to invest in their business. This allows them to gather the resources they need to grow, giving them a head start as an entrepreneur.
It takes tremendous effort and self-discipline to play a sport at the professional level. Elite athletes work hard to be the best—that’s their job, after all.
It also takes major discipline to start and grow a business. It’s not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to throw in the towel when they realize just how much work they will have to do to turn their business goals into realities. Retired athletes, on the other hand, typically have the necessary work ethic to succeed. Their job has never been easy, and they are accustomed to making short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gains.
Additionally, the work schedule of a pro athlete generally doesn’t mirror the typical 9 to 5 schedule of the average employee. Because they’re accustomed to working long or unusual hours, they may not struggle as much with the idea when trying to start a business.
Retired athletes who have succeeded as entrepreneurs often recognize how other athletes may struggle to find careers when they leave their sport. Thus, several have started organizations and programs dedicated to helping retired sports stars learn entrepreneurship.
This means that many athletes have access to support networks to help them realize their business goals. Add in the “team player” mentality that many athletes carry over from their pro days, and it’s clear that they have an invaluable resource to call upon for support, advice, and guidance.
You can’t succeed as a pro athlete if you don’t thrive on competition. The same can often be said for business owners. In virtually any industry, there are going to be competing businesses. If you’re not willing to push yourself, their success can mean your failure.
Former athletes are often uniquely willing to put in the effort to grow their business because they respond to competition in a positive, healthy way. To be successful in sports, they must have a certain mental toughness that drives them forward and pushes them to knock down obstacles in their way. The entire career of a pro athlete is based on winning. That mindset applies just as much to entrepreneurship as it does to sports.
Again, the career of an athlete is very different from most other professions. A sports star must accept new challenges in order to succeed. They can’t be content with completing the same tasks day after day, year after year. They have to eagerly seek out opportunities for improvement and growth.
This is another trait that is also crucial for an entrepreneur. A business owner won’t succeed if they don’t enjoy the idea of taking on new challenges. Business owners need to be the type of people who have a hunger for growth. This is absolutely a common trait among athletes.
Ability to Handle Pressure
Pro athletes are constantly under pressure from coaches, fans, and the physical demands of high-level competition. Entrepreneurs are also under constant pressure. In order to stay in business, they need to understand how to handle that degree of stress. Athletes are particularly qualified to run businesses in this respect. Often, they’ve already developed the coping mechanisms that allow them to perform consistently.
All of the above are the major reasons why athletes should consider starting their own business after they retire. They simply have the key traits that are necessary for entrepreneurship—and that’s why so many have succeeded by going this route.