5 Athletes Who Are Amazing Entrepreneurs

Athletes sometimes get an unfortunate reputation when it comes to handling their fame and their finances well. Many professional athletes come from lower class or lower middle class backgrounds, and suddenly find themselves handling millions. It can be a recipe for disaster. But while some star athletes have flamed out in some very high profile ways, others have quietly managed their finances and created entrepreneurial success that will last for years to come. Let's talk about five athletes who are also impressive entrepreneurs.

David Beckham
While David Beckham's most impressive skill in life will always be his ability to bend a football to wherever he wants it to go, second to that is his incredible ability to handle finances and entrepreneurial ventures. After 20 years as a footballer for a wide variety of teams, Beckham is now focusing solely on his business career. Oh, and enjoying his retirement.

The footballer has done so well over his career that his entire last year's salary of $5.3 million at Paris St-Germain was donated to a children's charity. Beckham's primary entrepreneurial venture was in fashion, endorsements, including Adidas, H&M, and Samsung.

What can businesses learn from this? Who you partner with matters. Whether you can afford to tie your business to someone as famous as a world champion footballer, or you're making offers to local high school and college athletes, choose carefully. Your endorsements reflect upon your business.

Josh Cartu
While many athletes become entrepreneurs, Josh Cartu went the other way around. After building a successful business, he became a Formula 1 racecar driver. With his "Wolfpack" team, he won the Gumball3000 race in 2014, cementing his name in the racing game. He drives for Ferrari, and trains with some of the most impressive names in racecar driving. His latest business venture, SandStorm, is an iGaming services company.

What can businesses learn from Cartu? Building their brand. Through activity on social media, careful interviews, and excellent endorsements and advertisements, Cartu has built a racing empire that reinforces his entrepreneurial career - which, in turn, makes his racing more valuable to clients.

Venus Williams

As the first black woman to be ranked World No. 1 in tennis, Williams has been building her legacy for many years. Known for her aggressive and impressive playing style, Williams brought that same energy to her off-the-court ventures.

While Williams has many different business ventures, her passion revolves around design and fashion. She is CEO of an interior design firm, V Starr Interiors, which is based in Florida. In 2007, she also teamed up with Steve & Barry's to launch a fashion activewear line, EleVen. She said that she loved building a fashion line which allowed women to lead active lives without sacrificing style, and that she was thrilled to be creating something she could wear both on and off the court.

What can businesses learn from Williams? Don't give up on your passion projects. You need to focus on your career and building your business, but you also need to remember what you love. If there's a way to bring both together, then real magic can happen.

Cal Ripken Jr
If Cal Ripken, Jr.'s achievement of being voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in his first round of eligibility wasn't impressive enough, his record as an entrepreneur certain is enough to make anyone take notice.

Most of Ripken's primary business ventures are in the world of baseball. He owns several minor league teams, and at one point, expressed interest in purchasing the Baltimore Orioles, if the current owner decided to sell the team. He is a studio analyst for TBS Sports, and is also on the Board of Directors for ZeniMax Media, which created the MMO sports game "Cal Ripken's Real Baseball."

What can businesses learn from Ripken? Focus on what you're good at. Ripken was an amazing baseball player, and using that influence, he has built a successful second career based on his expertise. When a CEO or other C-suite holder is ready to step back from that role, they may be able to create a less stressful second career as a mentor, partner, and venture capitalist, for example.

George Foreman
A successful boxer, George Foreman was often thought of as the primary competition for Mohammed Ali. As a two-time world title holder and inductee to the Boxing Hall of Fame, the world thought Foreman would retire in the 1990s. Instead, he became a spokesperson for the George Foreman Grill, touting its fat reducing benefits as part of his successful weight loss.

What can businesses learn from Foreman? Don't assume your career is done. After two losses in 1977, Foreman retired from boxing, but when the time was right, he returned and won the World Heavyweight Championship, a feat no one thought he could achieve at the age of 45.