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Serena Williams, Tennis Player

5 Business Lessons Businesswomen can Learn from Serena

I definitely have found a balance. I’ve had so many offers in the past to do different movies or different things and I always choose tournaments over it. Serena Williams

The world knows Serena Williams as a top tennis player who earns millions every year. But, did you know that she is a savvy investor who has funded over 30 startups? And she is just getting started.

Serena Ventures is a company that has a portfolio of investments that is already worth over $10 million. It has been just six years since the tennis player started her business venture, and she has ambitious plans of not only investing in the dreams of entrepreneurs, but also starting companies of her own.

Want to know what’s Serena’s secret to her business success? Here are some lessons you can learn from her experience.

INVEST WITH PASSION

When Serena started her venture capital business, she did the same thing any other investor in her position would do. The tennis player would simply invest in companies that she thought had a good chance to grow. But, soon she noticed something that would change her investment strategy.

Serena noticed that less than two per cent of venture capital money was going to female founders and even less was going to people of colour. The tennis player quickly realised the need that she needed to fill: 60 per cent of the companies that Serena funds belong to women or people from the minority community.

Photo: The Associated Press

Why is investing with passion important? The investment may be just a number for the venture capitalist, but for the entrepreneur who gets that money it is like breathing life into her dream. Imagine what it feels like to know that there is someone out there who won’t let your dream die. Now imagine you are the investor meeting people whose dreams you are nurturing.

The business owner would go all out to deliver results and the investor’s life would be filled with so much passion and energy that no amount of money can buy

THE BEGINNING IS ALWAYS HARD

The job of a venture capitalist, at the most basic level, is to find good companies to invest in and then write that cheque. The truth is that even a business that requires you to just invest is not easy.

When Serena decided to start an investment company, she found out that the investment world is a small niche. Breaking into the industry was not as easy as she initially thought.

Why is investing with passion important? The investment may be just a number for the venture capitalist, but for the entrepreneur who gets that money it is like breathing life into her dream

Even after breaking into the industry, Serena had to go through a steep learning curve. Once the tennis player was able to overcome the initially challenges, it became easier and things started coming to her.

Currently, Serena is in a place where she is able to reach her investment targets every year. She and her team are in a position where they have to stop themselves from investing sometimes. The only exception is a business opportunity that they feel can be life changing. Every business is hard at first. But, if you are able to overcome those initial problems, you will be on the way to build a successful company.

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Consider this – if you do the exact same thing as every other company in the marketplace, why should customers choose you over the others? You have to do something different to stand out.

When Serena started playing tennis, the normal routine for everyone else was to get involved in tournaments and junior competitions. Serena did things differently. She just focused on her training. Everyone told her it couldn’t be done because no one had done it. The results, however, speak for themselves.

Photo: blog.crownandcaliber.com

It pays to try something new. Take a chance on a new idea. While the risks are there, the payoffs can be astronomical.

DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH, INVEST FOR THE FUTURE

Serena makes millions each year, but she doesn’t splurge. She describes herself as “the most boring spender.”

There is nothing wrong in investing in oneself. That is money well spent because it sets you up to earn more in the future. But, when it comes to buying things to make herself feel good, Serena is “bad” at it.

It pays to try something new. Take a chance on a new idea. While the risks are there, the payoffs can be astronomical.

Serena admits that she is “learning” how to treat herself, like buying some jewellery. What she has been doing with all her money is she has been investing.

Living below your means and investing the surplus is the only equation that adds wealth. If, on the other hand, you are spending more than you earn, even if it’s just a little over the budget, the practise will make you poorer every year, and over the long run you will go bankrupt no matter how rich you are.

RECOGNISE YOUR STRENGTHS

Everyone has their own strengths. If you are able to recognise yours and leverage them, you can make a lot of money.

Photo: AELTC/Pool/Getty Image

Serena’s strength is her fame. Although she was making more than enough by playing tennis and endorsing products for big brands, she knew the real money is in turning her name into a brand and promoting her own products instead of helping other companies for a small fee.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY

There is more to life than making money. After reaching a threshold that lets you live a comfortable life, the thought of making more money will not be the driving force of you actions.

You have to find something greater than yourself. A Higher purpose. For Serena it is investing in companies that will bring about real change in the world.

Main photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images