Cliché has it that when there is money, finding an investment opportunity becomes a secondary concern. Going by that train of thought, all that a retired millionaire footballer needs to do is buy real estate, liaison with some unidentified partners and kickstart his local business, of course with a registered office abroad. However, reality is far removed from this fantasy, and if you will, rather tough too!
As a matter of fact, without the strategic guidance of knowledgeable and experienced advisors (attorneys, family members and investment companies, etc.), a professional sportsperson is seldom able to manage his own affairs, let alone acquire the skills of becoming an entrepreneur. Most players, post retirement, are still in the prime of their life with more or less substantial capital, but do not know what to do in order to grow.
The Italian National Olympic Committee (Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano or CONI) has launched a program to support the reintegration of former athletes in the world of business.
The Restaurant Industry
Following the success of champion soccer players like Cannavaro and Zanetti in the restaurant business, many athletes have been attracted to foodservice ventures. However, not all of these ventures have gone as well as expected, forcing our heroes to start all over again with new initiatives and lighter wallets and wondering if there really is a right approach to invest in the catering business and create a profitable future.
The Right Approach
CONI’s program takes off from the premise that having cash is not conclusive to making a business work. At the same time, it also outlines that pooling in a lot of money or going by a popular name that arouses customers’ curiosity is also a short-lived tactic, which won’t take a business very far. On the other hand, the program focuses on conscious and strategic spending based on competitor analysis, getting acquainted with industry trends through trade fairs and comparisons with other entrepreneurs … quite like studying opponents before a match!
By enrolling in the program, athletes aspiring to become entrepreneurs can assess whether to leverage their public image full-throttle or start off in an understated manner and build things up from there by analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs).
As they say, sometimes it is wiser to avoid exposing too much as that may lead to putting one’s credibility at risk; in a sportsman’s language, positioning oneself in defense, rather than in attack. However, if one’s offensive nature calls, the best resort should be to create a ‘holy grail’ business concept – a trend that has gained record popularity in recent times.
What is a ‘holy grail’ concept? An idea that can turn market deterrents into advantages and not just sell products or services but also a unique, like-never-before experience that generates customer delight and loyalty as well as long term capital advantage.
The Dream Team
Relying on professionals with expertise and demonstrable projects is crucial. A lot depends on the nature of the business concept – whether it will stay in Italy or be based abroad; will it be designed by one company; who will select the human resources to manage and run the business; who will take care of marketing, bureaucratic management, vendor selection and accounting? All these fundamental questions determine the formation of a team. It is this group of individuals who will either win trophies or go home defeated.
Who will create the dream team – you or someone else? In most cases, the responsibility of hiring staff is delegated to family members, close friends of someone trustworthy. Before passing on the mantle, it is important to be absolutely sure that you will not regret the final decision. After all your team is the machinery that will fuel and run your business! Trust a professional who will be accountable to you.
The Long Term Vision
In a tournament, nobody gets to win the championship immediately. The same principle applies to the world of business too. The system organization takes time, patience, skills, constant adjustments, ability to draw inspiration from the surrounding events, socio-economic conditions, technological developments and most importantly, paying attention to customer needs. So, play your game one match at a time and give each performance your very best, albeit with eyes on the prize.
In short, yes, it’s entirely up to you to get up, go back and do the workouts, but at least in this entrepreneurial game, you will be your own coach and nobody will bench you.