July 2021 has introduced a whole new era with Name, Image and Likeness. We have fielded countless calls already on this topic. So to help streamline it, I wanted to create my 10 #NIL Tips for College Athletes and High School Recruited Student-Athletes to consider to help guide families and student-athletes right out of the gate!
1. Slow and Steady! Don’t be quick to chase a buck! Doing a mad dash for cash now, could have major implications to you in the future. For those of you not in college NIL is a piece of the puzzle but be grounded.
2. Focus on why you are a recruit or student-athlete in the first place. School and sports. That should continue to be your focus. If you are not producing in the classroom or on the field, no one will care about you as a brand spokesperson! Keep the priority the priority!
3. Realize that NIL will likely be pretty-messy for a few years while details, process and more come into place. While it’s exciting, please be careful. Ask someone you trust to help you. In the meantime, each of the colleges have initial platforms and education to help you. Start there. Don’t do things rogue right out of the gate!
4. Business Plan. Develop a plan that is written down that states your goals, brand vision, timing, how you will manage endorsements and sponsorships, legal and tax planning. When you write this plan and beyond you SHOULD ASK QUESTIONS. Ask them. Nothing wrong with asking lots of questions as you enter the NIL space! #FollowThePlan
5. Set up a true business entity, foundation, or corporation. We would recommend you work a CPA to help you set up a business that aligns to your business plan. This can be started at any age, as the benefits could be significant for any student-athlete with a solid plan rooted in common-sense.
6. Control your Intellectual Property! Buy your personal brand (name) website ASAP. I.e. YourName.Com You want to control this as it’s a way to control your brand long term. If you have a personal brand logo designed already or planning one in the future make sure you have a copyright for it! Clean and scrub all social channels to ensure credibility and to showcase you completely, not just as an athlete. Control your personal brand at all costs!
7. Personal Brand Vision Statement: Make sure you have planned and aligned what you personally want to represent. Are you into fashion, farming, or whatever, then your vision statement should align to that statement? This guide will help you know what you should and shouldn’t do (can help with recruiting honestly). Having this will also align your social activities or endorsements you might consider.
8. Less is more. While its great to chase commercial deals, you likely won’t have time to do a bunch of these, especially balancing school, training, practices, games and whatever is left relative to a social life. Be smart in the early stages of NIL. Remember not every deal is a good deal (short and long term). And please don’t tweet out “My DMs are open” …. because honestly just like in life, you should want to be picky with who you do business with!
9. Put money back! Hopefully when you do enter into a NIL agreement you do that with a true business plan in mind. If you don’t, please ensure you understand the tax implications. Holding some money back on each deal to ensure you are covered from a tax perspective is important. In addition, consider any expenses or tax write offs associated with your new ventures.
10. Review EVERYTHING and Be careful with agents. First and foremost, have someone read the legal terms of these agreements. These could be attorneys, agents or family business friends. These resources can be useful but their are a lot of areas to be eyes wide opened about when considering an agent or marketing representative. If presented with legal documents, make sure you have someone else review it. This could be very damaging very quickly, not to mention the implications on agent selection beyond moving into any professional sports career. Be smart, do your homework!
We’ve served as an advisor for years in the College Sports and Recruiting Space and are fielding a variety of questions and advising families on recruiting and NIL. If we can help you, please drop me a note directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message @BedfordAgency.