Managing transition - Lessons from the world of sport

One of the main difficulties for small business owners looking to make their way in the commercial world can be coping with the idea of having to be a master of all trades.

Many of us will have come from a larger corporate environment where lines of demarcation are easily seen, if you need something done, there is somebody to do it, and if you don't know the answer there will be somebody to ask.

When you go out on your own that support structure is taken away. For some that is thrilling as you have to sink or swim but for many it can be a daunting transition.

The same is true of elite sport, particularly now after an Olympic cycle.  Athletes that may have prepared for four or more years for one moment in the sun now have to come to terms with all sorts of issues that have been taken care of by coaches, governing bodies or family as the focus for them was on performance in one narrow field.

The Irish Institute of Sport has this week begun a course in managing the transition from a 'managed' to an 'independent' environment and there are lessons to be drawn by business owners by what they are focussing on.

The first three modules focus on personal planning, determining where the athletes are now and where they want to go next, either in sport aiming towards Rio 2016 or in the wider world.  There are no right or wrong answers, just ones that apply to each individual.

These will be followed over the coming months by courses in life skills such as budgeting, pensions, personal branding and public speaking and three areas of performance transition covering the return to work or education after a break for intensive training, a career in sport or one outside of that arena.

The intensity and the highs of competing as part of a team can lead to a significant down for athletes who have likely achieved a lifetime goal at a very young age.  These courses help in adjusting to a quieter phase of life and letting them know that what they might be going through is not unique and that there are ways through which others have successfully navigated.

It's not quite the same in business but the management of transition is something to be aware of whichever direction you are moving.

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