The media has painted a rosy picture of what it must be like to be a sports agent: free game tickets, wads of cash, and the opportunity to know the hottest athletes around.
It is certainly true that there are perks involved in owning your own sports agency, but there is also a lot of behind the scenes sweat, blood, and tears. It requires a significant amount of education and hard work to pursue this career path.
While the initial startup costs are low, you must possess sharp instincts, thick skin, and an eye for talent.
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The Importance of Education & Licensing
Ask any successful sports agent: education is the foundation upon which you will build your business. The first step is to earn your bachelor’s degree from an appropriately accredited institution.
While you are free to choose any major you would like, particularly helpful majors are public relations, finance, business management, sports medicine, and sports management.
Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree, the next step will be to pursue your master’s degree. Alternately, you may choose to pursue a law degree.
While a law degree is not required, the skills you acquire during your studies will be particularly beneficial when it comes to negotiating contracts for your clients. Most major leagues, including the NFL and the NBA, requires their sports agents to possess a master’s degree.
Even after your formal higher education has been completed, your next step will involve obtaining the appropriate professional licenses. Each major league that you wish to represent clients in will require you to pass their own sports agent exam.
Among other things the exam will cover is each league’s collective bargaining agreements.
Getting Your Company Off of the Ground
After you have received the appropriate education and licensure, your next step will involve creating a business plan.
For many aspiring business owners, the idea of creating a business plan is intimidating; however, a quality business plan serves as a reality check that will compare your business instincts against the industry’s hard numbers.
Once the plan is completed, its effectiveness will primarily depend on what you choose to do next. The business plan for your sports agency must also include a distribution strategy, which represents the backend of your business planning requirements.
The next step is to choose a professional name for your business and to create a limited liability corporation (LLC). If you have one or more business partners, then you will need to create a limited liability partnership (LLP).
In addition to these tasks, there will many standard startup duties to complete, like securing an office space, marketing, and branding.
Because sports agents are supposed to be masters of communication and marketing, your ability to devise and market a strong brand for your agency will tell prospective clients much about your abilities. Your office space needs to project an aura of confidence and success.
Potential clients will often form a first appearance of you based on how your office looks. Find an office space in a community that is home to multiple professional sports teams, and make sure that your office looks professional and polished.
Growing Your New Sports Agency
After your agency is up and running, it will be time to begin pursuing an aggressive expansion and growth strategy. A healthy business will naturally grow, but your sports agency must exercise caution to ensure that your growth is not achieved at the expense of your existing clients.
If the quality of their representation suffers due to your agency’s growth, then you will know that you have not adequately performed capacity planning.
However, with the right planning strategy, your agency can quickly grow by either attracting other high profile agents or by adding more sports to your area of representation. Here’s how to get started:
Attracting Your First Clients
Most major cities have a plethora of amateur leagues and games that you can begin to frequent. Here, you will be able to scout athletes who display the potential to go pro.
It is important not to jeopardize their amateur status by trying to sign them during their amateur years; however, there is no harm in introducing yourself and letting them know that you would be interested in representing them in the future.
Another excellent option for attracting new clients are collegiate players who want to be signed to a professional team. You can offer to assist them through this process in exchange for their signature on a contract that will guarantee you 15% of all of their future earnings.
With dedication, you will be able to find young talent that appreciates your admiration of their potential and values the hard work you put in on their behalf.
Getting Endorsement Deals from Local Businesses
Seeking out endorsement deals from local businesses offers an excellent starting point for launching your new sports agency.
In the beginning, your clients will not be attracting major leagues offers, but there are always small to medium sized businesses that are willing to endorse your clients in exchange for building their own brand recognition.
As your business begins to attract a higher caliber of clientele, you can slowly increase the level of your endorsement deals.
Last, but not least, as your clients begin to step into professional arenas and leagues, there will be a need for you to strengthen your agency’s brand. This can be accomplished by sharing your success stories with the sports industry.
Hire a professional web designer to create a website that showcases your abilities and that displays the clients you have successfully represented. When you are capable of successfully branding yourself, prospective clients will trust that you can brand them as well.