What’s the first thought you think of when you hear the word athlete?

Maybe you think of:

  • yourself or someone you know
  • a particular sport (football, soccer, hockey)
  • physically fit people in general (muscles, strength, speed)

If you put me (or any other athlete) in a social setting of complete strangers, we could probably point out which other people in the room were athletes.


Besides the obvious cues such as individuals being in peak physical shape, athletes generally ALL carry themselves in a particular manner.……both on & off the field/ice/track.

The very best athletes in the world seem to have an even greater aura & confidence about them as well.

Tiger Woods holds a natural swagger about his game on the course, without being too cocky.

Serena & Venus Williams both have a fearless competitiveness demeanor on the court that is evident to every viewer on the other side of the TV.

Ray Lewis held a natural swagger & top notch competitiveness as well on the football field….but his greatest strength on the field was his relentless passion and work ethic…day in & day out.

So how does this relate to entrepreneurship??

Let me explain.

The title of this post doesn’t paint the full picture…..

When I say that athletes make for better entrepreneurs, I don’t strictly mean “athletes” in the athletic sense. I’m speaking more to the athletic traits that these individuals possess (leadership, work ethic, perseverance, and so on).

These 6 traits are what help shape athletes into great entrepreneurs.

6 Reasons Why Athletes Make For Great Entrepreneurs

#1- Perseverance

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” –Thomas Edison

In sport, as in business, you’re going to get knocked down, both mentally and physically. People will tell you NO & life won’t always seem fair at times. Your journey in business will not be all sunshine and rainbows.

That is okay.

It’s imperative for you to NOT let petty obstacles hold you back from reaching your full potential.

If you are going through some rough time, you can check out this motivational video to get a motivational boost.


#2- Team Work

Being a team player isn’t always easy…….it is essential though if you are going to succeed.

Igor Larianov (3 time NHL Stanley Cup Champ & 2 time Soviet Olympic Gold Medalist) recently said this quote in reference to the Soviet style of play as a team:

“You didn’t have to see your linemate. You could smell him. Honestly, we probably could have played blind.”

Soviet hockey dominated the world hockey stage for decades due to the fact that each player understand their role on the team. Each player trusting & relying on one another fully to accomplish their goals. Five players on the ice played cohesively, not as lone individuals.

The same concept holds true for being a team member within a company or as an entrepreneur.


#3- Stubbornness

Being stubborn can be looked at as a negative trait to have. But stubbornness can also be seen as a strong asset in business & life.

There are countless stories of artists, professional athletes, and entrepreneurs who have all reached great heights in large part due to a raw stubbornness they held.

Stubbornness keeps you from giving up in your pursuit.

When this trait is applied correctly, it can do you wonders!


#4- Work Ethic

You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t work on your craft everyday, you’ll never amount to the success that you would have if you put in the work.

The best athletes in the world have the strongest work ethic. The best entrepreneurs in the business world share this quality too.

Work ethic isn’t a trait you’re born with. No one is born with a great work ethic, but it’s rather a trait you develop over time.

So many folks talk about wanting to make it to the top…..but their work ethic doesn’t always align with their goals.

As motivational speaker Eric Thomas says, “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

Take this quote to heart.

It’s very literal, but it speaks volumes of what it takes to make it.


#5- Goal Setting

Setting goals is the framework to all success…..

All the small baby steps you take up hill each and everyday will ultimately add up to you sitting atop the mountain (the mountain of your choosing).

Whenever you hear the term overnight success, someone’s either lying to you or not telling you the full story.

There’s no such thing as an “overnight success.” (NOTE: lottery winners don’t count. External forces simply gave them a winning ticket)

The overnight successful person that you think you see today (whether it’s a millionaire, a pro athlete, or an artist) is made up of years of tireless hard work, sweat, & time equity to get to the level that person is currently at.

There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this…. if you find a true overnight success, please introduce them to me (I’m yet to meet one).

One of my favorite examples of putting in the hard work it takes to succeed is shown in this 8 minute Youtube video by Gary Vaynerchuk: Overnight Success

Gary doesn’t come from an athletic background, but he embodies the athletic mentality of what it means to set goals, by putting in the hours & working fiercely to achieve greatness. We can all take something away from that.


#6- Continuous Learning

During the 2012-13 NHL Lockout, I was invited to train/practice with the Buffalo Sabres every day.

I can tell you first hand that each of the players on the team was constantly seeking advice on the ice & striving to learn more through daily drills to enhance their game. One of the worst characteristics anyone can hold is thinking that “they know it all.”

Even if you are the best in the world at what you do, there’s always room for improvement whether you’re Peyton Manning or the kid who just picked up a new sport/passion yesterday.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford

Final thoughts:

Even if you’re not an athlete…..you too can hold, learn, & develop each of these 6 traits in yourself as well.

Photo credit: Unsplash.com


Ryan Malinowski is an Entrepreneur & Professional Athlete. Ryan built up a successful company remotely from Europe while playing professional hockey overseas. Along with running his businesses, he also teaches aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners, & startups how to succeed more in online business at http://www.ryanmalinowski.com/">RyanMalinowski.com. If you have the desire to start/build your own online business, I’d like to offer you with my free 10 Video Mini Course- How To Build An Online Business.

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