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Be bold, be the boss: 6 strategies to jump-start your future business venture

Former student-athlete, now a business owner, empowers others to be an entrepreneur

Krystal Beachum offers business startup training to student-athletes. Credit: Washington State Athletics

Name: Krystal Beachum
Profession: Author, business owner and speaker
School: Henderson State, 2014
Sport: Basketball

Krystal Beachum published a business startup book three years ahead of schedule. The former women’s basketball player at Henderson State originally planned to write a book after achieving key milestones: starting a business, turning a profit, perfecting her craft, and building a solid audience share. But before reaching any of those goals, Beachum surveyed over 200 current and former student-athletes, seeking to identify how she could best serve this audience in their career aspirations. The data was clear: They were hungry to learn more about starting a business. The survey results and a gentle nudge from mentor Nehemiah Davis served as a catalyst for Beachum to embrace penning her first book, “For the Other 98%: The Ultimate Guide for Student-Athletes To Go Pro in Entrepreneurship.” This how-to manual combines practical startup advice, captures Beachum’s passion for business ownership and set the stage for her next role as an entrepreneur. She offers these tips for former student-athletes ready to be their own boss:

Build an actionable game plan.

Just as college athletes prepare for competition, budding business owners should develop a business plan. Key components to include in the plan are product/service offerings, pricing models, marketing plans, legal structures, startup costs, and finance and budgetary considerations. Beachum recommends reaching out to local Small Business Development Centers, often located on college campuses, to take advantage of free or reduced-cost consulting services. Once created, the plan then becomes the blueprint for how to operate and function as a business owner. Beachum also points to the Lean Canvas startup business plan, an easy-to-use template that makes business planning more palatable to the emerging entrepreneur.

Form a strong team.

To be successful, every entrepreneur needs a knowledgeable team of trusted advisors for personal, professional and business development. As you assemble your team of experts, explore your network to identify bankers, skilled accountants, public relations professionals, attorneys and potential business partners. Take advantage of alumni networking events, community service opportunities and social gatherings to build strong relationships for business and counsel.

Embrace industry regulations: It’s a part of every business.

Depending on your business’ legal structure, emerging business owners should be aware and have a working knowledge of industry-specific regulatory requirements; local, state and federal laws; and guidelines and tax implications. Make it a point to learn about the difference between C and S corporations; about a limited liability company; and about partnership and sole proprietorship. The last thing you want to do as a new business owner is forgo learning about legal guidelines in your industry. Beachum worked closely with the consultants and staff at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center to research legal structures and ultimately make informed decisions impacting her future company.

Become an expert in your field.

Make time in your busy schedule to discover new trends, read business books and industry magazines, subscribe to relevant podcasts, and learn from other business owners in and out of your industry. Knowledge is power and is something you can control.  Beachum is an avid reader and encourages budding business owners to read a few personal favorites: “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki; “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie; and her new favorite read on social media, “Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Draw on your ability to focus and learn from mistakes.

New businesses often face a tremendous learning curve in the early stages of the startup. Entrepreneurs can grow too quickly or too slowly — both having positive and negative effects on morale and cash flow. Beachum says one of her biggest lessons came out of jumping into her business and not making enough revenue in the beginning to maintain her lifestyle. She learned that she needed to balance working a steady full-time job while growing her startup. She encourages business owners to quickly respond to mistakes in the startup phase, readjust along the way and keep pressing toward the goal.

Have faith over fear.

The drive, focus and determination you exhibited in the college classroom and in competition are the same traits you’ll need as a business owner.  In business, as in college sports, you’ll have amazing wins and heartbreaking losses. There are days when you may question the entrepreneurial path, and it’s during these times when you should draw upon faith to push through adversity. “Just like a game, the incremental steps make a difference while you are on this journey in starting a new business venture,” says Beachum. “Take time each day to reflect and develop a plan of action.” 

For former student-athletes considering starting a business, Beachum recommends the resources of the U.S. Small Business Administration, America’s Small Business Development Centers, Lean Canvas business plan, and her own business, Student-Athletes Unite.

Krystal Beachum is a former Henderson State women’s basketball player from Mexia, Texas. She is the author of “For the Other 98%: The Ultimate Guide for Student-Athletes To Go Pro in Entrepreneurship” and founder of Student-Athletes Unite, an organization designed to match college athletes with resources to reach their post-collegiate dreams.

After the Game

We are proud of all our former student-athletes, and in recognition of their accomplishments after their playing days, we launched NCAA After the Game.  Our goal is simple: to celebrate the former student-athlete.

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