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Entrepreneurial Capacity-building for Sport


Setting up a business
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Athlete mindset, entrepreneurial characteristics, business idea, idea sources, problem, solution, testing and validation, business model


The objective of this training fiche is to take the learner through the key milestones of setting up a business out of a sports background. After taking this training fiche, the learners will understand the interlinks between sports and entrepreneurship. They will realize which of the attributes developed and cultivated through sports are useful in entrepreneurship. Further, they will understand the nature of business ideas, as well as their potential sources and ways to improve their generation. They will learn about the importance and potential means of testing business ideas. Finally, they will learn how to design their future business and the overall logic how it will work, i.e. create, deliver and capture value to their customers, using the business model concept.

Setting the scene

Setting the sceneClick to read  

Every enterprise starts from an interaction of the two main components – an individual and an idea. We are going to tackle both in this unit. If you are a sports person, you have an excellent starting position to become an entrepreneur. By improving your alertness to ideas and opportunities, this potential can be further leveraged.

From sports person to entrepreneurClick to read  

Sports and entrepreneurship develop and cultivate similar individual characteristics. That’s why athletes and sports people are prone to entrepreneurship, exhibit higher entrepreneurial orientation, and are typically equipped with qualities that can be capitalized also on the entrepreneurial field. Moreover, a sports career also positively affects other individual-related aspects relevant for entrepreneurship, such as personal resources, social relationships and networks, as well as social, emotional and leadership abilities.

Through your engagement in systematic training and involvement in sports rivalry, you are prone to acquire numerous characteristics that are useful and typical for entrepreneurship. These include above-average discipline, persistence, internal locus of control, proactiveness, situational control, need for achievement, or resistance to stress. Also, you are fostering your personal resilience - the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune, difficulties or change. So, if you have cultivated these traits through engagement in sports, you are more likely to succeed in many other domains, including entrepreneurship.

Recognizing the commonalities between sport and entrepreneurship can play an important role when standing at the doorstep of your (next) professional career. If you are an athlete and your professional sporting days are at the end, the pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities can lead to a successful after-sport lifestyle. If you are a sports professional, entrepreneurship offers an attractive option to align your sports passion, professional skill, and earning for a living. Finally, if you are an amateur sportsman or sportswoman, you have most likely gained valuable qualities that would accompany you when developing your own entrepreneurial project. So, in either case, if you are passionate about sport, entrepreneurship can become your new passion, too.

Ideas and OpportunitiesClick to read  

Entrepreneurship is a process in which an opportunity is identified, evaluated, and exploited. The ability to identify or create and exploit opportunities is an essential part of entrepreneurial behaviours.

It starts with a business idea - an initial of idea how to create something new, improve the existing, or better solve a problem or a need, in a way that will generate value for the users, which can lead to establishing an enterprise. Sources of potential business ideas are all around you, and most of them actually inherently depend on your personal and professional experiences and situations that you encounter, your social networks, places you have visited and things you have seen, your hobbies, education, or expertise. That’s why your sports experience serves as a valuable source of business ideas, too.

Every business idea is made up of the following key components:

  • Problem (of your customer segment) - the most significant challenges that your customers face in relation to your business idea
  • Solution - the solution you provide with your product or service
  • Benefits - the value and advantages that your solution brings to the customers

The good news is that the ability to generate business ideas can be trained. Here are some hints:

  • Never stop learning
  • Be curious and empathetic
  • Keep observing what’s going on around you
  • Maintain and grow your network
  • Practice new ways of thinking
  • Use special ideation techniques
Validate your business idea

Validate your business ideaClick to read  

Many entrepreneurs and innovators execute their ideas prematurely even though they make excellent sense and look great on paper. Later they learn that in reality they might not be so great. That is why it is important to validate your business idea before you invest too much time and resources into its implementation.

Testing and validation mindsetClick to read  

Validation is a process of reducing the uncertainty of pursuing ideas that look great in theory but won´t work in reality.

Bland, D. J., Osterwalder, A., Smith, A., & Papadakos, T. (2020). Testing business ideas.


In the first phase, as seen in the figure above, you need to discover if your direction is right, test the basic assumptions, get insights and confirm with evidence that your business idea is very likely to work.


Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup: How today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. Crown Business.


Build-Measure-Learn is a learning and feedback loop for establishing how effective a product, service, or idea is, and doing this as quickly and cheaply as possible. In the first “IDEAS” phase you are concerned with ideation and planning. You come up with ideas and plan what experiment or test you will conduct. In the “BUILD” phase you need to turn your idea into something tangible, which means you create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) - a product with basic features, but enough to get the attention of the consumers. Now you have your product (=”CODE”) and have to make sure whether the critical features are sufficiently finished. Then you plan how to “MEASURE” success. In the next phase, you need to analyse the “DATA”, be it either qualitative or quantitative. The last phase is critical, you need to get insights, based on those you “LEARN” and either change the direction completely or preserve and move on to the next stage.

Mindsets you need to adopt:

  • Entrepreneurial

  • Customer centric

  • Iterative approach

  • Question assumptions

  • Experiment driven

  • Data influenced