📺 Stream EntrepreneurTV for Free 📺

Want to Be Successful in 3 Easy Steps? Just Observe Naomi Osaka The two-time U.S. Open champion offers a roadmap for anyone looking to become a champion of their industry.

By Paul Argueta

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Al Bello | Getty Images

Earlier this month, 22-year-old Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka defeated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka to win the 2020 U.S. Open Women's Singles title, her second triumph at the annual Grand Slam. The previous time was in 2018, when Osaka suffered the agony of victory against one of her idols, Serena Williams. (The young prodigy was booed by some rather celebrated and even apologized for persevering.)

Like most success stories, Osaka's admission into the tennis royal family didn't happen overnight. She started playing tennis at the age of three. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from her mental toughness, which can be broken down into three key principles. Let's take a look at each one and how they can apply to your business.

Related: After Ignoring Everyone's Advice, This Sports Entrepreneur Is Now Racing to Catch Nike

1. There's no such thing as second-best

In the third grade, Osaka penned a letter to her Williams about how much she looked up to her. After her 2018 U.S. Open semifinals win, she commented, "I was just thinking, I really want to play Serena."

When you were a kid, it was a thrill to beat mom or dad at anything. It could've been a video game, a board game, hide-and-seek, whatever. You played to win, but you also played for their approval. You wanted to make them proud. It is a natural progression for a padawan to want to become a Jedi. Think Kobe vs. Michael, Steve Jobs vs. Michael Hewlett , Schooling Joseph vs. Michael Phelps, etc. Competing was not enough for Osaka. She had to be the best. There was no other option.

You've heard different variations of this mentality. Tony Robbins refers to it a "burning the boats." Will Smith has called it having "no plan B." However you reference it, it equates to one thing: being non-negotiable with the outcome you expect.

If you are going into your entrepreneurial endeavour with one foot in and the other foot out, don't even bother. "Trying" a new business has resulted in more failures than bankruptcy ever has. If you're going to do something, commit to it wholeheartedly.

2. The any-given-day-mentality

Osaka oozes authenticity. Her post-match conferences are honest, unscripted and mostly brief. She is comfortable in her own skin admitting when she's nervous or even star-struck. She's also aware that on "any given day," an opponent can lose. So can she. No one bats 1.000, and it's that sliver of opportunity that she exploits.

In business, there is no 100 percent approval rating, and there is always room to improve. This is why Walmart, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Disney and Facebook invest millions of dollars in research and development of new ideas. No one is too big to fail.

As an entrepreneur, this can be comforting, as it represents opportunity for you. Put out the best product you can. Provide the best service you can. Keep doing your best even when no one is looking. When the leader in your market slips and falls, you'll be ready. Treat every day, every customer and every client, as an opportunity to chip away at your competitor's market share. This also means that when you are the big dog, you can't rest on your laurels either.

3. Be selective about your team members

In early 2019, Osaka parted ways with her coach, Sascha Bajin, news that shocked the tennis world. Bajin was an integral part of her meteoric rise from being ranked number 68 to number one. Some suspected it was over money or contract disputes, but Osaka contends that she was no longer happy and that she would not sacrifice her happiness over success. To this day, she says nothing negative about her former coach and maintains that she only wants to surround herself with positive people.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be selective about who you allow in your tribe. You will be tempted to hire or align yourself with someone who has exceptional skills and a poor attitude over someone with an amazing attitude but less skilled. Hire based on attitude. A negative mindset is contagious. So is a positive one. If a candidate lacks skill, have them take additional courses to learn what it is you need them to do. Chances are, they will see your invitation to improve their resume as an opportunity, and your organization will benefit from it in the long run.

Related: Niche Sports Leagues Entrepreneurs Can Learn About and Profit From

Many entrepreneurs compare business to sports, and it's no wonder. It takes a powerful mindset to succeed in both. Hopefully, you'll incorporate the same three rules that Naomi Osaka has used to become the world's first Japanese tennis champion into your business or entrepreneurial endeavour.

Paul Argueta

Chief Encouragement Officer

I am the CEO of Bear Bull Co., an award-winning, client-first agency that has more than a decade of experience helping businesses increase sales and reduce salesperson turnover. I am an a 2X Inc. 5000 honoree and lead one the top 500 largest Hispanic-owned businesses in North America.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

These Coworkers-Turned-Friends Started a Side Hustle on Amazon — Now It's a 'Full Hustle' Earning Over $20 Million a Year: 'Jump in With Both Feet'

Achal Patel and Russell Gong met at a large consulting firm and "bonded over a shared vision to create a mission-led company."

Business News

These Are the 10 Most Profitable Cities for Airbnb Hosts, According to a New Report

Here's where Airbnb property owners and hosts are making the most money.

Side Hustle

How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Successful Business

A hobby, interest or charity project can turn into a money-making business if you know the right steps to take.


Want to Be More Productive? Here's How Google Executives Structure Their Schedules

These five tactics from inside Google will help you focus and protect your time.

Starting a Business

This Couple Turned Their Startup Into a $150 Million Food Delivery Company. Here's What They Did Early On to Make It Happen.

Selling only online to your customers has many perks. But the founders of Little Spoon want you to know four things if you want to see accelerated growth.