3 Lessons from Athletics that Apply to Entrepreneurship

Successful entrepreneurship is all about mindset — and a whole heck of a lot of luck! Especially when you’re starting out. Even with the smartest mentor on your side, there’s never a guarantee that the market will want what you’re offering. It’s a gamble at the best of times, to be quite frank.

The great thing about luck is that your mindset will often lead you right to her front door. Mindset, as all successful entrepreneurs will tell you, is the key to winning at this game. Being a successful entrepreneur requires the same outlook as survival — the same survival instinct it takes to be successful on a football field full of 6’9 linebackers or any other sport where you have to use your brain to stay alive and score points!

Combining sport-mindedness and entrepreneurship is what today’s post is all about. Here’s how to bring these two seemingly polar opposite disciplines together for the win.

1. Resolve to never hesitate.

Hesitation is okay if it isn’t due to a fear of the unknown, or a lack of confidence. A wrestler might hesitate to dive in for a double-leg on their opponent if that opponent has an under-hook on them. That’s smart because the chances of completing that take down successfully without getting tossed on their back is almost nil. However, when they do commit there’s no hesitation because they lose the element of surprise the minute their opponent sees them drop down.

The same is true in business. You can’t sell a service to a client if you’re hesitant or unsure, they won’t have confidence in what you’re selling or your ability to follow through. Same when a competitor sees you hesitating — they’ll take advantage of any opportunity you give them.

sports and entrepreneurship

2. Recognize your limits and stay within them.

If an athlete doesn’t understand their limits in any discipline, they’re likely to get hurt. If a traditional orthodox boxer tries boxing as an unorthodox fighter without heavily practising that discipline, they’re going to get knocked out while fighting an equally-skilled foe. If a hockey player were to remain on the ice past their shift, they’d tire — and get hurt and/or give the opposing team a chance to defend or score better than they would have otherwise.

That isn’t to say you can’t experiment and change your limits over time. You just can’t go to the extreme without understanding that consequences are a sure thing rather than just a possibility. If you way over-deliver on every order you do for a customer, they’ll expect the same result every time. You’ll overwork yourself and your staff and eventually labor costs will exceed profits. Exceed the customer’s expectations by delivering a product or service superior to the competition, without pushing past the limitations of you, your staff, and the business in general.

3. Be a good sportsman

Tanya Harding destroyed her figure skating career back in the 90s when she and her boyfriend hired a hitman of sorts to attack Nancy Kerrigan — a fellow Olympian who was her next biggest competitor on the U.S. Olympic team of 1994. After her conviction, she was banned from competitive figure skating for life. Had she cheered Kerrigan on from the sidelines — found a way to be happy for her despite the fact she might not have ever surpassed her — things would have been different.

Image Credit: Duncan c/Flickr

Hating on the competition in business does nothing but alienate them from your circle and show the public that you’re not as nice as you may seem when you’re trying to sell them something. Be inspired to do better without trying to push them down. Use talent instead of brute force and mean words. As the old saying goes “You’ll attract more bees with honey than you will with vinegar.” You never know when the opportunity will come where they can help you in some way — why burn bridges and make yourself look like someone lacking in scruples?

Sports do in fact relate to entrepreneurship. There are many other correlations that can be made, which hungry entrepreneurs can use to ensure future successes.

Can you think of any off the top of your head?

Main Image Credit: cormac70/Flickr