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Steps to Successfully Transition From Pro Athlete to Entrepreneur

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.