Many ague with me when I say that entrepreneurialism is a sport. However, when you really break it down, you’ll see that sports and running your own business are very much alike.
Let’s start with a simple question: Which of these characteristics are attributes of an athlete and which are attributes of an entrepreneur?
• Responsible (for their own success)
• In charge of their own destiny
You probably said “both” for every one of those admirable character traits, and you were right. You probably also are starting to see more clearly now that that entrepreneurialism is very relatable to sports in that the successful “players” have a lot of positive attributes in common. However, in entrepreneurialism and the sports arena, sometimes bad players (and bad ideas) end up getting paid a lot when they may not deserve to do so and, in the end, it can cost the team the “championship” at the end of the season.
As an entrepreneur playing for yourself and your business, you need to think like a top athlete dedicated to the success of your team. Here are a few things that the best athletes and entrepreneurs have in common:
They love what they do
I’ve worked for myself for almost 20 years and I’ve loved every minute of it, even when the water got rough. For years, I’ve loved being my own boss, building companies and growing ideas. When you love what you do, it truly doesn’t feel like work. You’re getting paid to do what you love and most days you will find that passion provides you with an endless amount of energy to dedicate toward your business’ success. That love also makes your business the place where you feel the most comfortable and “in the zone.”
They have drive and passion
There is no passion to rival that of a professional athlete for his or her sport except that of an entrepreneur for his or her business, and I would suggest that you model your entrepreneurial passion after that of the most dedicated professional sportsmen and women. Think of the athletes you have watched play the game and give it their best shot even when they are terribly tired or experiencing a personal tragedy. That is the dedication that an entrepreneur needs to show even during the toughest times.
They demonstrate tenacity
As an entrepreneur, you must resolve to never give up and accept that you will likely have to start over many times. There will be setbacks that you will need to power through. In entrepreneurship, there comes moments when you really need to “suck it up” and be strong. There will be many times that no one will believe in you but you. Growing up in Kentucky, I was always fascinated by Colonel Sanders. I loved his chicken but I loved his sayings even more. I particularly like, “One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.” Legend has it that Colonel Sanders heard 1,009 “no’s” before he heard his first “yes.” The Colonel was turned down 1,009 times before his chicken was accepted once, and he was 65 years old when he started his journey! That is probably pretty similar to a number of athletic success stories you’ve heard over the years as well. The road to entrepreneurship or a championship is not an easy one; you will have to fight though the no’s, the bad news, and the deals that fall apart all while reinventing yourself and realigning your actions and goals to meet the next challenge.
They improve themselves every single day
This is the easiest attribute to adopt, and it’s so simple: just pick something to learn, do or improve on each day and you end up with 365 days of focus. What do you want 365 more of? Whether the answer is customer calls, fitness workouts, contracts, vocabulary improvement, reading books, social media posts, make focus on that answer your daily workout. Those workouts will all add up to your reaching your next big goal. Note: Your focus will lead you toward your goal whether you intend for it to do so or not, so make sure that your goal and your focus are both in sync.
They make every day count
The worst thing you can do in sports and in entrepreneurship is to only work hard part of the time. Do your best every time, all of the time. It’s a delicate balance between being obsessive about perfection to the point of impeding your own progress and simply working your hardest on everything, so ask a trusted source to help you find that balance. I am often accused of trying to make things “too perfect” or always insisting on taking something to the next level to make it special. As long as you are not impeding your own progress, though, I say, “Why not? If you’re going to do something, make it count or don’t do it at all.”
If true athleticism is fully appreciated, then entrepreneurialism will become an Olympic sport by the time the 2028 Olympics roll around. In the meantime, keep pressing the envelope and in the immortal words of Mario Andretti, “If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough.” You see? Just one more of thousands of quotes that fits perfectly sports and entrepreneurialism perfectly.
I, for one, am playing this game to win a championship, and I hope you are too.