By Daniel Griggs, the founder & CEO of ATX Web Designs.
My work ethic as an athlete is also my strength as an entrepreneur, and it has enabled me to grow from being a freelancer to having a thriving web design agency.
When playing sports, you may be competing against players with more experience. In business, your competition may have been operating for years, have a hold on the market, have a strong brand and a big budget. Applying these three strengths will help you be successful as an entrepreneur.
Compete Against the Odds
When the odds are against you, your competitive nature helps you figure out how to win. After college football, I decided to train to play in the NFL. At that time, I was a nobody. I had no accolades and came from a small school. I had no big name sports agent or connections -- just a passion to play on a level that almost 99 percent don't. My competitive nature kicked in.
I didn't make excuses for what I didn't have. I used what I did have: a laptop and a cell phone. I visited every NFL team's website and viewed their roster to understand what each team looked for in a quality player. I found and contacted those who I figured would be the decision makers. Out of those 23 teams, the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars gave me my opportunity.
Ironically, I took this exact same approach when building my web design agency. I had no technology background or any experience coding. But I had a passion to build a business. My competitive nature kicked in. I started building drag-and-drop websites on Wix.com while studying code. I went to the local chambers of commerce websites, viewed all business websites listed and cold-called and/or emailed any that I felt I could design a better website for.
I was so driven to build my business that if I had seen a sign on a vehicle in traffic, I'd cold-call them right there. That's how I got one of my very first clients.
Most football players don't get an NFL opportunity. Most small businesses don't succeed. Before you compete against others, sometimes you have to compete against the odds.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Remember those 23 NFL teams I reached out to? It took an entire week of working at least 14 hours a day to complete that list. To develop it, I studied team rosters, found decision makers, crafted a pitch and identified phone numbers. The emails weren't public so I had to guess. And if they bounced back, I guessed again.
After emailing 18 teams and getting nothing, I was ready to give up. In the end, 21 teams either said no, but two gave me my shot.
When I first started ATX Web Designs, I developed cold call lists during the weekend. I made calls Monday and Tuesday to set appointments for Wednesday through Friday. I was told never to call again, that people were "not interested" in an email reply and often got no response at all. But I kept my eyes on the prize. I knew all of my efforts were part of the process of building my own agency.
You endure the countless hours and early mornings to play a game that lasts a few hours. But that taste of victory triumphs everything. Don't allow those tough times to discourage you. Keep your tunnel vision and stay moving forward.
Be the Spark That Ignites the Fire
As a founder and CEO, I realize I have others depending on me. When playing football, I tried to be the first on the field and the last off. It was a sign of leadership that the small things mattered: being on time, being disciplined and leading by example.
If you don't put forth the work ethic to be successful, you can't expect anything different from your team. I'm not stronger than my team. My team makes me stronger. And together, we strengthen one another.
Once You've Put in the Work, Go Win
You put in the time, the research, the reading and hard work. Now go put it to use. Research, study and master how to effectively reach your audience. From that first $1,000 you'll make $100,000. Reinvest and continue to build.
Think of the track athlete gasping for air during practice so he or she can perform at their peak level for that chance to be gifted with gold around their neck or the boxer who runs miles almost every day only to have their hand raised after the last round. As an entrepreneur, employ these same efforts, knowing that all the tough times now will equal victory later.
Daniel Griggs is the founder & CEO of ATX Web Designs, the industries leading web designs and SEO agency.