Turning a great idea into a viable business can be a difficult path to navigate, but with the right plans and processes in place, it is achievable.

We’ve detailed some of the key points that will help keep you on the right track when turning your idea into a genuine business opportunity.

Start by studying the pointers here and sign up to the Athlete365 Business Accelerator, which will allow you to develop your idea with the support of industry experts.

You already have what it takes

As an elite athlete, you might feel that you’re starting off behind the rest of the crowd, but in fact, you’re in a great place to move into business. Think about how you worked your way up from a beginner to an elite athlete. The same dedication, perseverance, hard work and passion you put into sport is needed for business success.

You also understand failure and how to bounce back with even more intensity, as well as how to pursue excellence irrespective of resources so you are already in a good position.

Feedback is key

To be a successful entrepreneur your idea should solve a problem or meet a need of a specific group of people – your target audience or market. You will know you’ve found the right idea by understanding your customer.

Have you shared your idea with anyone? If not, ask people if they want or need what you are offering. You will have already built a network of fellow competitors, coaches and officials, media and sponsors from your career as an athlete. Think of all the people in your network whom you could approach to discuss your idea.

Say you wanted to open a gym for young athletes, your first consideration might be in offering services within a school or another gym to test the market and programme ideas. Once you’ve established a solid following and built your reputation, your next step is to make the move into your own space. This approach allows you to carefully spend time collecting facts and changing direction if required.

Think about how you worked your way up from a beginner to an elite athlete. The same dedication, perseverance, hard work and passion you put into sport is needed for business success.

Relish the competition

Feedback is not only good for improving your business plan; you might also get a sense of market demand for your product or service, and you may uncover similar products or services already available.

If you do find similar products or services, don’t see it as a bad thing; it validates the market you’re hoping to enter. The trick is to find your unique advantage or point of differentiation, be it a better product or less expensive option.

Above all else, embrace the competition. It will make you more innovative as you try to find new strategies or techniques to give you an advantage.

Always remember that you did not become an elite athlete overnight. It took time to practise and perfect your skill – the same applies to entrepreneurship.

Put your plan into action

Once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, you’re now in a position to launch. A good starting point is the Business Model Canvas, which covers four areas: customers, value proposition, distribution channels and cost structure.

  1. Your customers: who are they? Create personas – what would grab their attention?
  2. Value proposition: what is the problem you’re solving or the benefit you’re providing for your customer? Know why they want your product or service, who your competitors are and how you can win.
  3. Distribution channels: how will you reach and get the product or service to your customers? Will it be online or through established retail outlets?
  4. Cost structure: how much will it take to create and deliver the goods and services promised in the value proposition? 90 per cent of new businesses fail in the first three years as a consequence of not taking into account all the costs involved.
Start small

Always remember that you did not become an elite athlete overnight. It took time to practise and perfect your skill – the same applies to entrepreneurship.

Even though you may have grand plans, don’t get ahead of yourself. Start small with one customer segment and one solution. Pay attention to any warning signs in this start-up phase, as they are often indicative of larger problems later. Patience is key.

Think of it this way: if you’re starting a new lift in the gym you begin with a lightweight before eventually adding more as your strength grows. The concept here is the same.

Inspired to turn your business idea into a reality? The Athlete365 Business Accelerator will guide you through the process.