AFTER THE GAME - Bridging the gap from winning athlete to thriving entrepreneur | by Jay Dixon

black_yellowdot_transparentbg (1)

Athletes and entrepreneurs have much more in common than you’d think: they’re both driven by commitment, discipline, and an unwavering professional ideology. It’s almost as if one prepares them for the other. For countless athletes, their careers are a source of pride and part of how they define themselves. Sports entrepreneurs, or Athlepreneur® are a growing trend and there are many reasons why. 

Unfortunately, when those athletic days end, many find themselves feeling lost and struggling to fill the void with something else meaningful. It’s understandable why this phenomenon is so commonly referred to as the ‘identity gap.’ The end of an athlete’s career can leave them feeling disconnected from peers, routines, and their sense of purpose.

My Path From Athlete To Entrepreneur

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there myself. As a college athlete, I competed at the highest levels of competition, both on and off the field. But when I left football and found myself in the real world, I was lost, confused, and disconnected from who I was, what I wanted, and any purpose I thought I had.

I had an identity crisis, well documented among athletes, and the transition into the real world was challenging. I was experiencing depression and anxiety with no championship to chase.

When I started my career in the corporate world feeling uninspired and lost. I would eventually find success as an entrepreneur. I’ve founded and sold East Cooper Heating and Air, Charleston, South Carolina’s first remotely owned and operated A/C service and sales company, and GQRE, a real estate brokerage firm, a leading RE publication for its futuristic model and approach to business. I founded an M&A firm in New York, NY, with over $500m in assets under management and personally consulted and tons of deals.

My path to entrepreneurship was paved by my experience as an athlete. True business success eluded me until I tapped back into my inner athlete and became determined to both play big and win big.

The same determination and hardworking spirit that makes athletes great often leads to success in business. However, there’s no shying away from the harsh realities; starting up is never easy. Like any sport, building your empire requires practice and unwavering perseverance, even if things don’t always go as planned.

Here are three of the most essential reasons why entrepreneurship is an ideal path for former athletes and why I created Success Coach to teach sports entrepreneurs. 

Sports entrepreneurs accelerator for athletes

Sports Entrepreneurs Mindset to Win

Most businesses fail within the first year. This can shake an entrepreneur’s confidence and response to business challenges. Conversely, athletes are programmed to be winners. They are already conditioned to face adversity and focus on the end goal. Having tunnel vision for success keeps a business on track and has the business owner always on the offense.

Conditioned Resilience For Sports Entrepreneurs

Athletes are no strangers to getting knocked down. Star players are made through their ability to get back up and keep going. When applied to business, this helps the athlete-turned-entrepreneur stay undeterred while pursuing their business objectives. Business ownership is often a masterclass of resilience and those who already possess this invaluable quality are at a distinct advantage.


Being an athlete takes a tremendous amount of discipline in both mind and body. From routine setting to mindset conditioning, an athlete’s success is dependent upon his commitment to self-discipline. Starting a business from the ground up requires a relentless pursuit of goals. For the less-disciplined person, giving up or not pursuing all avenues to success is an easy out. To-do lists get ignored, and without a boss to push objectives, complacency can easily take over. Athletes, however, are masters of self-discipline, and when they become entrepreneurs, that same kind of dedication to their business can result in massive success. 

Taking the Next Step

Even if their time on the field is over, sports entrepreneurs never have to leave their sportsmanship behind. Career 2.0 is an exciting concept with the potential to create a whole new pathway to success. High-achieving athletes, in particular, have more options than ever when it comes to breaking out of their comfort zone: they can become a coach or tap into their skills to start a venture from the ground up and become sports entrepreneurs. While staying open-minded is critical, it all comes down to recognizing that opportunities aren’t always obvious. Still, if you’re willing to take risks and look beyond the surface, you might be pleasantly surprised by what awaits you in your journey to becoming an Athlepreneur®

Whatever path an athlete chooses, avoiding feeling invincible when making your next move is essential. On your journey to becoming an Athlepreneur®, it’s important to keep these tips in mind. The reality is that you already possess the tools and skillsets needed to create a successful business. It’s all about developing and tuning them, just as you did your body on the field.