4 tips from pro tennis players applied to business

4 lessons pro tennis players can teach you about running a successful business.

As Wimbledon fever grips Britain and the world, it may all seem like fun and games. But beneath the pleasantries and sportsmanship, there are simple principles that can help you run your business with the focus, grit, and determination of a world-class tennis athlete. Here are four inspirational tips straight from the playbooks of some of the world’s most successful tennis players.

“You learn everything in sports, without even knowing that you’re learning. I’ve learned how to win, how to lose, how to set new goals, how to deal with [myself], how to deal with others—all that stuff. It’s so funny: I picked up this book once, by a renowned business school, about how to be resilient. I was like, ‘Oh, I learned that playing tennis!’” - Venus Williams

Thank your supporters

Tennis stars like Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova are widely admired not only for their prowess with the racquet, but also because of the time they make for their fans. Watching them mingle with crowds after wins, it’s easy to gauge how grateful they are to fans for the support and commitment to their athleticism and brand. Whether it's signing autographs at events, taking pictures, or just joking around with people, these tennis greats spend as much time as they can showing gratitude. An effort that’s clearly appreciated by the enthusiastic crowds.

In business, it’s very common for successful people to forget where they came from and who helped them get there. What sort of benefits could you reap if your end goal was letting people know how grateful you are for their support of your business? Improved social media presence, a handy feedback base, and strong brand advocacy to name but a few.

Always give back

There are endless examples of professional tennis players donating funds and time to their communities and beyond. Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray donated prize money from a Spanish tournament to be shared equally between the NHS and the Player Relief Programme. Grand Slam legends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have both contributed millions to helping various charities and communities in need.

These players make clear their belief that success and fame come with the responsibility to give back. While many would argue that social responsibility doesn’t belong in the business handbook, those who have made giving back to the community a core value for their business have reaped the rewards. Look at businesses like Toms shoes, who donate 1/3 of their profit for grassroots good, or Bombas, who donate a pair of socks for every pair purchased. Not only have their businesses gone from strength to strength, but they retain relevance in the market despite what are arguably quite niche and specialised product ranges.

In addition, giving back also has the benefit of driving:

  • Employee engagement, spreading a deeper sense of pride in the company and its values

  • Investment in local communities, and a positive social and economic influence

  • Positive change in your local community, leading to mutually beneficial collaborations as part of a bigger movement to instigate change

Never give up

For elite athletes, injuries are incredibly difficult to endure. Not only do they have to spend months recovering in physiotherapy, but they must also spend extra time getting back to the physical shape they were in before the injury.

Most entrepreneurs will face numerous obstacles on their path to success, and throwing in the towel often seems like the only solution. Having the courage and commitment of a top tennis player is an invaluable way to ensure that you achieve your business goals. How do they do it though? Personal fortitude is a big factor but remember – there is often a big team working with these athletes, supporting them to achieve a faster recovery, and keeping their spirits up. While it might feel like you’re on your journey alone, remember – there are likely people who are just as invested in your recovery when something doesn’t go to plan. Check with employees, friends and family, and even consider finding yourself a mentor or coach during troubled times.

Stand up for what you believe in

Former world No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion, Venus Williams isn’t afraid to express her point of view. She advocates speaking up about your needs and desires, mainly because it’s the most effective way of making those around you aware of them. Honest conversations can be difficult but they’re less draining than keeping potential issues, worries and needs to yourself.

Taking responsibility for your life – and business – choices means claiming power. It also means you’re the one making difficult decisions and standing firm. Equipping yourself with the tools you need, trusting in your own abilities and advocating for yourself will help you to earn respect and recognition. Those who don't agree with or believe in your goals at least know where you stand.

“Always bet on yourself. That’s your best bet. Don’t bet on anyone else. Don’t believe anyone else more than you. Take that chance; it’s the best chance you’ll ever take.” – Venus Williams

Lessons learned from top-flight tennis players can have a lasting impression on the way you conduct business. By following some of their principles, you could make your work more meaningful and effective, and achieve your dreams, no matter what life serves up.

Looking for help and support? Speak to our expert V-Hub Business Advisers, who offer tailored guidance on a range of topics.

Vodafone Limited is not in any way affiliated, associated with or otherwise endorsed by the tennis players referred to above, including without limitation Venus Williams.

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