Why Athletes Make Great Entrepreneurs

To be successful you have to get into the right frame of mind in order to perform your best and need to be able to put setbacks behind you instantly. In comparison, the discipline and determination it takes to compete as a professional athlete on a world stage is very similar to what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There are so many things I’ve learned or been trained through athletics that are transferable into other aspects of life, particularly business. I found that the skills I collected from years of various sports to have been beneficial to my business career.

I’ve enjoyed all the action of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as well as the World Track and Field Championships just wrapping up in Birmingham, England. I love the Olympics, along with the incredibly exciting atmosphere they create. For me, there’s nothing more captivating than watching the world come together in a supportive environment that celebrates the human spirit. And before I delve too deep into personal observations, I want to say it’s that very spirit that makes athletes incredible entrepreneurs. Give me a few paragraphs, and I’ll explain exactly why that’s true!I spent years training in the pole vault with the goal of winning an Olympic medal, and though I never got there, the end goal in mind kept me motivated, and the ride was magnificent. Athletics have been a constant positive and influence in my life. When I was in college at the University of Tennessee, I grew into a competitive pole vaulter, but catastrophically broke my back in competition and was wheelchair bound through an entire indoor season. You can imagine how upset I was when the doctor told me that I couldn’t compete again for a long time (or indefinitely). When I did make my return I found a new passion for the sport, eventually became an All-American, and trained at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. I was obsessed with the idea of competing on the world stage. I didn’t quite have the talent to make it to a world championship competition, but chased that dream as long as possible. The mental side of training and competing in track and field has always enormously appealed to me, too. While you have opponents in the events, the most challenging adversary is yourself. No matter the event, venue, and conditions, it’s only you against the clock, height, or distance. To be successful you have to get into the right frame of mind in order to perform your best and need to be able to put setbacks behind you instantly. In comparison, the discipline and determination it takes to compete as a professional athlete on a world stage is very similar to what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There are so many things I’ve learned or been trained through athletics that are transferable into other aspects of life, particularly business. I found that the skills I collected from years of various sports to have been beneficial to my business career.

One key take away, which applies far beyond the track, is to treat each attempt separately.

You have to forget the last missed attempt and move onto the next challenge. Sports, like business, moves so quickly that if you dwell on the past for even a few minutes, an opportunity will have passed and the moment will be lost. For these reasons and many others I’m excited to explore in future posts, I believe athletes make great business people and hope to hire many of them in the future. I’ve learned from experience that in elite-level sports, the time period for success is short, and retirement is long. Athletes have a long life to live after competitions are over which offers a great opportunity for reinvention. It’s fascinating to think about: the opportunity for redemption. Lose a tiebreaker? Another competition is coming up to change your gameplan. Miss an important opportunity to get an idea off the ground or invest in something? Another opportunity will present itself soon enough.  As a retired athlete turned entrepreneur I’m going to follow my passions, keep an open mind to new opportunities, and refuse to take no for an answer.

Michael Seaman

Michael is the co-founder and CEO of Swipesum. A veteran of the payments industry, Michael and his brother Stephen have led Swipesum since its inception in 2016. In his free time, Michael likes to play with his two daughters and skateboard.

Read more
SCHEDULE a CONSULTATION

Meet one of our payments experts to see if working together makes sense.

We will schedule a quick consultation call to go over how you're currently handling merchant services at your bank, show you our menu of options, and plan for a successful launch.

Swipesum.Insights

SWIPESUM.CONSULTING

We help businesses make intelligent payment decisions.

Learn more about Swipesum
audit

Start with a free audit of your payments processing statements

Schedule an audit
consultation

Connect with a payments expert and get a free initial consultation

Book consultation