Sharapova on the cover of Entrepreneur — great tennis player, even greater businesswoman

Maria Sharapova is on the cover of December 2018 issue of Entrepreneur, and deservingly so — not only does she have an awe-inspiring tennis career, but her refined business sense and work ethic have spread her influence way beyond the sport, to the point that she’s now a highly successful entrepreneur in various niches and her rise has only just begun.the

Adding to her $38,342,119 WTA prize money, Sharapova’s list of sponsors boasts multimillion-dollar deals with giants such as Nike, Canon, Porsche, Nike, Head, and Evian. But that’s just a fraction of the story. It’s not only Sharapova’s face and persona that sell products, the Maria tennis clothing line she’s been creating with Nike has consistently been a big hit and a ballet flat she designed for Cole Haan was the brand’s best-selling shoe for two years.

Given that champions feel that only the sky is the limit, Sharapova wanted to try herself out in building her own brand from scratch and, unsurprisingly, her six-year-old Sugarpova candy project is growing at double digits year over year. After a modest start, but with good strategy and desire for expansion, Sugarpova is now sold in 22 countries and includes about a dozen products, from gummies to high-end chocolate. According to Entrepreneur, Sugarpova’s 2017 sales have been estimated at $10 to $12 million.

It’s apparent that Sharapova was born with this business wisdom, but if there’s one thing she can advise us it’s that there’s nothing you can do alone and building a strong team is crucial:

One of the things I’ve taken from my sport is the importance of team building. I have a very small group I rely on, whose opinion I very much call for. It’s key to have those people, even as you become more confident in your own voice and your own choices. There’s a reason you have a team behind you, and that’s because they are much more knowledgeable in certain areas than you are. I don’t want to be the smartest employee on my team.

Besides Sugarpova, at the moment Sharapova’s business portfolio includes investments in Ultimate Fighting Championship, sunscreen maker Supergoop and an app called Charly that lets users message celebrities; plus an upcoming partnership codesigning hotel gyms with architect Dan Meis, whose projects include the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Safeco Field in Seattle.

I can’t even comprehend the areas Maria’s empire will cover in the coming years and decades, especially when I hear the projection of Max Eisenbud, who is the most important person in Masha’s team, having been by her side for 20 years:

I think she’ll be a better businesswoman than she is a tennis player. She’s amazingly competitive.

Most people would kill for Maria’s tennis career, but for her, it’s just the beginning. Maria is “Unstoppable”, as her autobiography suggests.

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