People ask me all the time about starting my own business. They ask how I got started and what keeps me motivated when things get tough.
While some entrepreneurs credit what they learned in college, their paid memberships to networking groups or the online courses they took taught by self-proclaimed business experts, I credit 100 yards of turf, huddles, and literal blood, sweat, and tears. My best business training came from playing football.
“Are you going to be the hammer or the nail?”
Before I started my business, I played women’s pro football for 10 seasons, most of which we lost until 2007 when we finally won it all. But up until that game, and games the following seasons, I cannot even remember a number of times I got knocked on my ass and had seconds to get back up or quit. Ironically, the same thing happened in my business.
There is no other sport that symbolizes an actual workforce like football does. Eleven different team members with 11 different roles come together to achieve one common goal and if even one of them makes a mistake, the plan can fail.
Every team makes mistakes, even in the NFL. How many times have you seen Tom Brady throw an interception? Does he quit? No, he reviews the play to see where the failure happened and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The great Vince Lombardi once said, “Football is a game of inches…,” and that is a lot of what being an entrepreneur is. You have to keep grinding if you want a chance to succeed. You might be the mom and pop store competing with a national chain for a contract in the same way you can be the 0-5 team playing the 5-0 team (and how many times have we seen the 0-5 team come out on top?). Maybe they weren’t the most talented, but they worked the hardest or came in more prepared.
Desire and dedication is a powerful combination. Football is like business in the way that you can be the champion and still lose games and that is why you can never stop improving. There is always, and I do mean always, going to be someone who feels they work harder and are better than you, and they might be. But that is where you have to decide if you are going to allow them to work harder. Or as a coach once asked me, “Are you going to be the hammer or the nail?” When you can answer that, you find a way to win.
When I started my business I started with a complete football mentality, which is why the name of my business is Sixty5 Media. I wore #65 for my entire football career. I took the advice of experienced coaches and seasoned vets. I surrounded myself with players who shared the same mentality to win and the same work ethic. I sought out rookie talent that showed great potential and that would allow me to test my skills as a leader.
The bottom line is, suiting up and playing football isn’t for everyone just like owning your own business isn’t. You have to be willing to get pushed to your limits physically and mentally. If you can dig deep and get through those moments and you are truly passionate about what you are doing, I promise you, there is nothing else like it when you succeed.