What key lessons can your business learn from the world’s top tennis players?

Almost half a million spectators are expected to flock to the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AKA Wimbledon) between Monday 3 July and Sunday 16 July to enjoy the world’s oldest tennis tournament, where 757 of the world’s best players will compete in 674 matches.

During the fortnight, according to the official tournament website, spectators will consume 28,000kg of strawberries and more than 7,000 litres of cream. They’ll wash it down with 350,000 cups of tea and coffee, 230,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 100,000 pints of beer and 28,000 bottles of champagne.

Tennis lessons            

So, what can your small business learn from the world’s top professional tennis players, past and present? Well, obviously, they’re extremely competitive, highly motivated, supremely self-confident and determined. They hate to lose and give it everything out on court.

Successful owners and entrepreneurs have the same approach to business, of course. They’re natural-born winners, too, coming second isn’t in their make-up. In business and tennis, there’s no doubt – you need to think and act like a winner, if you are to achieve great things.

Mindset and self-belief are also critical ingredients if you want to succeed in tennis and business. Successful athletes and business people have supreme self-confidence; they believe they’re world-beaters.

Desire and commitment

If you want success, you must want it badly, too. Of all the qualities a tennis champions needs, desire to be the best is right up there. When the odds are against you or things aren’t going your way, you must dig deep and have what it takes to fight back. Whether it’s losing a major client or a grand slam final, your desire to overcome disappointment and bounce back must be second to none.

And regardless of whether it’s Wimbledon or running your own business, you must work hard and fight for all of your victories. Top business people and world-class tennis pros might make it look easy, of course, but they work very hard, often out of sight of others. If you’re not prepared to put in the hours, you’re unlikely to reach the top.

Success also requires sacrifice. In many ways you can’t always live as others do. You must give up things others take for granted, including your free time. Sacrifice goes with the territory, especially earlier on when you’re trying to establish yourself, but that makes success even more satisfying.

Strength and stamina

Great tennis players realise the value of consistency. They’re single-minded yet willing to learn from their coaches (successful business people also have trusted advisers). They’re mentally strong and possess great stamina. On court, they remain agile and display sound (frequently split-second) decision-making skills, knowing exactly how to respond and switch tactics where necessary.

Top tennis players control their emotions (well, most of the time). They’re highly adept at weighing up opponents and finding ways to out-think them. Preparations for tournaments must be thorough; nothing is left to chance.

Overnight success stories are rare in tennis and business. Getting to the top takes time, commitment and a willingness to get better and better. Above all, you can never give up if you want to achieve great things. In the words of this year’s defending Wimbledon Men’s Singles champion, Sir Andy Murray: “Give it everything you’ve got. Leave nothing out there.” That’s sound advice for tennis players, entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

• This blog was written for and published originally by KPMG.