In 2014, I received the phone call that every baseball player dreams of – it was the Seattle Mariners, informing me that they had just selected Judi bola in the Major League Baseball draft. I had just finished high school, and now I was about to start my professional baseball career.
It was something I had worked hard my entire life to achieve. I spent three seasons in the Mariner’s organization before joining the Minnesota Twins. After two seasons in Minnesota’s organization, I was released.
To say I was devastated was an understatement.
Baseball was all I knew. I wasn’t exactly sure what my next move would be, although I did know I wanted to begin an entrepreneurial journey and start a business. A lot has changed in my life over the past year.
I relocated to Los Angeles and started three companies: a professional athlete services agency, a creative agency and a nonprofit aimed at helping to improve the lives of children. I have a full plate, and I’m very happy with my decision to venture down this path.
There were five key steps during this transitional period that contributed to a successful transition from professional athlete to entrepreneur. My goal is to use my personal experience to help more former athletes successfully venture into entrepreneurship after their playing careers are over.
- Take time to make sure you make the right move.
One thing I didn’t do after being released was jumping right into my next venture. I wanted to be sure that the next move I made was the correct one, so I took some time off. I needed to not only make sure that I had a solid plan moving forward, but I had to digest the fact that my baseball career as a player had come to an end.
Baseball was all I knew up to that point. Everything I did in life revolved around the game. I knew that to make an intelligent strategic move I needed to take some time to decompress.
I took almost a year off. During this time, I worked on self-improvement, reading and consuming as much business information as possible. I focused on my health and fitness as well. I kept my mind and body in prime condition during this downtime. This helped me enter the next phase with a clear mind and complete focus.
When the reality of playing days coming to an end sinks in, it can be a difficult pill for many athletes to swallow. It would be very difficult to transition to a successful business venture without 100% mental clarity. The downtime before the next leap is important.
- Determine what industry you want to be involved in.
I had a fairly good idea that I wanted to still be involved in professional baseball in some capacity and leaned toward athlete services from the beginning. I wanted to be able to help younger players navigate through all of the different aspects of being a professional athlete.
I knew that I could leverage my personal experience while also building a team of experts and create a one-stop agency for all player’s needs. And that is exactly what I built, handling everything from contract negotiation to training and development, as well as off-field business advising.
While mapping out APE Sports Group, the athlete-services agency I co-founded, I saw an opportunity to fill another need: creative services for influencers, athletes, celebrities, musicians, etc. That led me to also co-found the digital services agency 20FT Bear Media.
That additional business would never have been spawned if I didn’t take the time to research the industry I was interested in. By taking the time to do so, I was able to identify another opportunity and execute.