Former Players

In the world of pro sports and business there are always people trying to sell you the “next big thing”. During my football career we were taught to stay away from all people trying to push business deals. I don’t think that was the right message for the NFL to preach. Yes there are pitfalls to all business opportunities and there are MANY crooks out there looking to prey on unsuspecting young athletes (and the general public for that matter) but telling players to stay away from everyone instead of educating them on business and how to look at business deals, stunts the players intellectual growth and could lead to business mistakes when the player leaves the game. What they should have been teaching was how to create the right team of advisors around you for success. It certainly has worked for them right?

There are many profitable business opportunities out there. Right now franchising is a path many players are choosing for a career outside of football, both during their career and post career. I personally am a fan of franchising, but only with the right franchising program and a personal time commitment by the franchisee. There are many companies looking to get rich off of budding entrepreneurs looking to strike gold, so they want to use your capital to grow their own franchise brands. That is the franchising model. You are giving up some of your profits for the lower risk of an established brand, business model and corporate infrastructure. There is another benefit of franchising that I believe is the most important, business education. Many of the top franchise companies offer extensive education for prospective franchisees. The really good ones like GNC (General Nutrition Centers)have a full immersion program that teaches you everything from the POS (Point of Sale) System, to marketing, customer service, HR and product acquisition. TheInternational Franchise Association has a wealth of knowledge and resources for anyone looking to research the best franchises to invest in. For anyone looking to invest in a franchise I would recommend that you take the time and take advantage of the education yourself, even if you will be hiring a general manager. This minimizes your business risk and learning everything yourself, from soup to nuts, helps you to truly understand what it takes to run a profitable franchise as well as educates you on the systems of the business so that you will be better able to manage you employees and customers. Personally, when I retired from football (or more accurately, my services were no longer required) I actually worked in my first franchise store everyday as the only employee for the first year so that I would be able to understand everything there was to know about the business and community I was doing business in. This also allowed me to properly hire and train my future employees as well as set me up to purchase my next franchise based on the knowledge I earned in that first year. The knowledge I earned from my time as a franchisee was priceless and has served me well in my professional career since.

Owning a business can be a tough but gratifying and profitable experience, but it is not for everyone. Letting someone else manage your business without knowing everything there is to know about that business is a mistake that too many entrepreneurs make. If franchising is the path you want to take, be prepared to do it the right way to increase your chances for success. The Trust powered by the NFLPA and its partners SCOREAthlife and Babson College offer our former players education and resources to arm them with the tools to be successful in business. SCORE provides mentoring and resources to anyone looking to start or grow their business. Make sure to give them a call if you are looking to own your own business or just wondering if entrepreneurship is right for you.


This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here:  

Nolan is currently the Senior Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Former Player Services. Prior to joining the staff at the NFLPA, Nolan spent ten years as a business owner and a financial services industry executive. Nolan had a ten year playing career in the National Football League, playing for the LA/Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington.