The “Extra” Worry That Comes With Being an Athlete in Business

Becoming an entrepreneur is a vulnerable experience. We put ourselves out there as the product or service, putting a price tag on what we’re worth. It can be intimidating, especially for a professional athlete who has only done one thing for his or her entire life: focus on sports.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Beyond that, though, is another reality that many of us don’t experience: dealing with the court of public opinion. I suppose some of us may grow our businesses to the point that we are spoken about publicly, but it isn’t the norm.

Professional athletes have to keep in mind that their business will be seen through the filter of having once being in the public eye. This can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing? I wrote in early November that athletes must capitalize on their status as playing in the pros or in college.

The curse is being under a microscope. So many fans believe athletes are entitled millionaires because the cliche guy throwing around money is typically the one covered in the media. Sensationalism sells.

So, what do you do if you’re a professional athlete-turned-entrepreneur to keep your name and your business out of the mud?

1. Hire Well

First, it is important to know that there will always be naysayers. Some people enjoy blasting others on social media — that’s how they get their kicks and pro athletes are a great target.

I know it’s frustrating to see the ignorance in the face of trying to make an honest living. It’s frustrating for me to see people I know, like, and respect spoken about as though they are selfish and wrong for wanting to build a business.

Make sure you invest in quality public relations or marketing professional who can screen your social media and guide you in how you present yourself to the public. You always want to be one step ahead.

2. Recognize Your Differences

Even if you didn’t finish your pro career as a millionaire, you must recognize that the public sees you as one. That might mean you have to showcase the nonprofits you support, give away “scholarships” to the coaching program you run, or simply be ready to ignore criticism.

Some industries are easier to navigate than others. Real estate, for example, won’t be met with a great deal of criticism. If you plan to work a lot with the public, however, you may run into some. It’s completely unfair, but the public doesn’t see you as a “real” person — to them, you are a caricature.

Take that into account as you’re putting together your marketing plan.

3. Be Transparent When Necessary

Are you just starting on your business journey? Let your fans and followers know you are figuring out your workload as you go and, therefore, won’t be able to accommodate everyone just yet.

If you’re offering coaching for youth sports, for example, be transparent about the number of kids you can take at any given time. Begin with a “soft launch” so you can determine how many clients are realistic and how you should price your services.

You don’t want to present yourself as a bumbling newbie, but you can talk about wanting to do things right and, therefore, beginning slow.

Customize Your Plan

I am speaking in very general terms — customizing a plan is essential in this space. If you are just starting your business or need help re-branding or putting together a marketing strategy, reach out to schedule a free consulting call.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her

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