Annika Sorenstam - Retired Golfer & Entrepreneur
With budding businesses and a new baby, golf's retired superstar, Annika Sorenstam, takes on new challenges.
By Taylor Mallory
Annika Sorenstam recently conducted a survey, asking visitors to her site to name five important female players and five men. "That part was easy," says Sorenstam, the retired golfer who dominated the women's division for years. But when she asked who has remained relevant after their athletic careers, "people could name men but not women." Sorenstam is determined to change that with the many business ventures she's entered: including the ANNIKA Academy, a boutique golf instruction school based outside Orlando; a wine label with Wente Vineyards; a top-selling clothing line with Cutter & Buck; a new women's fragrance; the ANNIKA Foundation for children; and a golf course design business. And the new entrepreneur is a new mommy (she delivered on September 1st) with a new hubby and managing director of her brand.
Here she talks about this new chapter in her high-profile life.
PINK: Why did you retire from golf to become an entrepreneur?
Annika Sorenstam: It was time. My heart was telling me that my mind was elsewhere. I wasn't as motivated about golf or as into it as I used to be. It was time for a new chapter. I'd started some businesses here and there and wanted to spend more time on them. I'm a type-A personality. I love having lots to do and sharing my passion for golf and fitness and building things. And I feel a responsibility to grow the game of golf, so most of my business ventures stem from that.
PINK: What's been the most challenging part of entrepreneurship?
A.S.: I can't think of worse timing. Times are tough. Golf has been hit pretty hard. People are playing less, traveling less and buying fewer clubs and less clothing. There are less endorsements and sponsorships of events. But I've built a solid base. I believe in myself and stick to my values. The strong will survive – the ones with great business models who really stick to the fundamentals. But you have to be a little more creative about how you offer your products or services. Corporations were our biggest clients at the Academy, for instance. But they're not spending as much these days. So we're offering them more for their money. We're flexible with them to create golf experiences they can afford. They still have to entertain clients after all. And I've been working more in Asia, which doesn't seem to be as hit as here.
PINK: What did you learn from golf that made you a better businesswomen?
A.S.: Goal setting, long-term thinking, focus and dedication. And I've played on the biggest arenas in the world, so I'm used to pressure and challenges. I don't run away from that.
PINK: How do you define "success"?
A.S.: I'm very competitive, so I love being challenged, building something, changing something, creating something and sharing my knowledge. So I've been successful if my foundation touches kids' lives, makes a difference and grows the game that I love. And delivering on all the promises my company makes.
PINK: How do you manage your Life/Work balance?
A.S.: I blend my lives. I work from home, so I can take a break and do stuff here. I work internationally, so sometimes I do calls at random times. I work a lot, I love what I do, so it doesn't feel like a lot. I don't look at the clock. Things have to be done, and I love doing them. It all just blends together. I am not planning on taking much time off after the baby's born. I will continue to work as much as I can. The role is obviously very new to me so I will do what I can to juggle both roles.
PINK: How do you relax and rejuvenate yourself?
A.S.: I love being at home with my husband, hanging out with friends and cooking. I've traveled all my life. I don't need to do that anymore. And I make Annika time. Most women have to multitask between family, friends and business – and we're great at it. But you have to take personal time – at least a couple hours a week to read, exercise or take a nap. I use a lot of that time to work out. It relieves stress and makes me feel good to be active and moving. Then I have more energy and can get more done.
PINK: What is the best business advice you've ever gotten?
A.S.: My father told me there are no shortcuts to success. That has applied to everything I've ever done – from golf course to business. Things take time. You can't just jump to the top of the ladder; you have to go one step at a time. It took me years to win the U.S. Open and to build this brand. It will take more time to grow. And it feels better when you achieve it that way.
PINK: What advice do you have for women considering entrepreneurship?
A.S.: Trust yourself. Take your time. Surround yourself with knowledgeable people who can help you. No matter how great your product is, your staff can be your strongest (or worst) asset.