Hockey Excellence: Lessons for Entrepreneurship?

In Canada we produce great hockey players. In fact Canadians comprise 50% of all NHL players and Canadian national hockey teams have won 29 Gold, Silver or Bronze medals on a world stage in the last 10 years. It’s pretty impressive! When we look at the success factors that got us where we are today in the sport we see a number of things that have contributed to this dominance:

– a culture that supports and encourages hockey;

– a continuum of skills training at the earliest of ages and at every skill level;

– more than 2,500 indoor hockey rinks and tens of thousands of outdoor rinks;

– approximately 32,000 coaches and officials trained each year; and,

– at least a 1,000,000 organized games and scrimmages played each year.



There is a reason we excel and achieve success – simply put, we’ve built the support infrastructure and capacity to succeed. When we look at our positioning on a world stage related to entrepreneurship, we have to admit that those same success factors simply don’t exist. In fact, the success factors would look very similar:

– a culture that supports and encourages entrepreneurism;

– a continuum of skills training at the earliest of ages and every skill level;

-thousands of experiential learning opportunities;

– tens of thousands of teachers and mentors that can build awareness and skills; and,

– a million opportunities to start businesses and learn from failures and successes.

The reality is we have not built the required support infrastructure and capacity to achieve entrepreneurial success on a world stage (i.e. the type of economic success driven by new, small and medium sized businesses.)

The required infrastructure and support isn’t developed over night, it took us decades to put in place the hockey development program that results in our ongoing success and it will take us some time to do the same for an Entrepreneurship development program.

We need to start promoting entrepreneurism as a viable career option and teaching business skills as early as possible. We wouldn’t tap a 24 year old on the shoulder and ask them to learn how to play hockey so we can compete internationally, why do we think it would work for entrepreneurism? We need to start building out the entrepreneurship support continuum and infrastructure. My thoughts on establishing some preliminary steps can be found at:



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