Jen Welter is the first woman to coach in the NFL. As I read her new book, Play Big, I was deeply impressed by the powerful insights it offered for entrepreneurs. So, I reached out to her to talk through some lessons derived from her book and her own experiences to share with you here on the Business Advantage Small Business Community.


Play Big

For a small business, the challenge is often how you can compete with companies that are further along in their development. Welter suggests you play big on your own terms, with your own advantages. For example, she advises if you are at a disadvantage in terms of staff, resources etc., “…instead of trying to ‘out-big them’, why not out-little them? What you lack in size you have in mobility and responsiveness, so out-little and out-fast them – it’s what I did my whole career!”

Play Your Own Game

Success is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for anyone. For business owners, defining your own vision of success is critical, and being authentic is your competitive advantage. As Welter says, “Never try to play someone else’s game; you have to define your own. You cannot be all things to all people, nor should you want to be. What makes you different is absolutely what makes you special. Why fit in when you can stand up and stand out?”


Dr. Welter had to use her own measures of success as she played pro football and ultimately coached in the NFL. Use the same philosophy as you decide what goals and objectives are right for you.


Give Feedback with Grace

In Play Big, a great learning moment came from one of Dr. Welter’s coaches, who told her not to play for his football team, but he did so in a way that ultimately empowered her. Welter says that, “The best gift a coach can give a player is to make him or her better. If I knew a coach had my best interest at heart and was invested in me personally, I would run through a wall for that coach.” 


The same philosophy can be applied to your business dealings, with employees and partners. As Welter notes, “Feedback can be hard to deliver, especially when it seems like a ‘no’ or bad news. However, sometimes by sharing the thought process and a bigger picture for how a person fits in the puzzle or skills which would change the dynamic with improvement, you can actually set the person up for success, which should be the goal.”


Go All-in

One of Welter’s top mantras is, “If you really want to change the game, you have to be willing to bet on yourself. There is no guarantee for success, but there is a guarantee that if you don’t go for it, you will always wonder what would have happened if you would have tried.”


Entrepreneurs make that commitment up front, but sometimes that dedication becomes hard to sustain. However, continuing to be “all-in” makes all the difference in being successful. Welter adds, “…once you do go for it, you have to go after it. You will never regret the work you put in.”


Don’t Question Yourself

As an entrepreneur, you constantly face new challenges, which can bring about doubt and rejection. As Welter says, “Being an entrepreneur means that you are betting on yourself. You have a unique vision that has allowed you to see business in a different way, so guess what, there are going to be a whole lot of people who call you and/or your idea crazy. Guess what? I was told I was crazy my whole career. Guess what else? I love my brand of crazy. You can’t change the game by doing what has always been done and if someone else could see what you do, they might have already done it!”


Be Vulnerable

Finally, a key area that entrepreneurs struggle with is the emotional part of being an entrepreneur.  Whether it is opening up on their struggles to family, asking for help or admitting to feeling like a failure, many entrepreneurs put walls up. However, Welter advises vulnerability is a key part of attaining success.


“As athletes, we are taught never to admit fear and never to admit weakness,” she notes. “As a player, you want everyone around you to see you in a certain way – your teammates, coaches, fans, opponents should see you as capable, strong, good under pressure, an asset. It’s a persona which is developed with practice. However, what many athletes struggle with is when and if to turn that invincibility mode down, and with whom. This is a common challenge in business, as well. On the one hand, we want to have all the answers, but then we are stuck with no one to answer the questions. Needing help, or as I like to say, seeking next level greatness, means you just might have to get a bit uncomfortable and let that invincibility shield down and get help from others who can complement your talents, answer your questions and coach you.”


“Why limit yourself by your view of the situation and your personal expertise? That’s not strength. That’s being stubborn. Find trusted advisors or ‘teammates’ who push you to be better, that you can trust enough to let down your walls a bit.”


Hopefully, you can follow some of these tips from a true barrier-breaker to continue to break barriers in your own business. For more on Dr. Jen Welter, visit and to learn more about her book, Play Big, click here.


Related Articles:

Interview with Confirm Biosciences, Inc. founder and CEO, Zeynep Ilgaz.

Dhani Jones explains why thinking like an athlete will score for your small business.

Why Thinking Like an Athlete Will Score for Your Small Business



About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including


of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.


Web: or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Similar Content