From emigrant to entrepreneur - Sport Star Academy franchisee shares his journey
A lifelong football fan, it took Tim Rickman years of heavy slog in multinational corporations and a redundancy before he had the opportunity to indulge his passion in business.
Three years a franchisee with Sport Star Academy, British-born Tim spent 10 years in the UK in the business information section of financial services, and then moved to Australia taking on pure marketing roles in the fast moving consumer goods industry.
“I had a year off to travel, and I wasn’t really coming here to live but it transpired.”
For the accidental Aussie resident, by the time his role was made redundant it couldn’t have come soon enough – he was ready to make the next move.
“I wasn’t particularly enjoying it, it gets to you a bit after a while. It was a good time to take stock,” Tim said.
Through that process and through connections, he was introduced to the kid’s sport business Sports Star Academy and it piqued his interest. For a pretty keen sportsperson who has always been playing and coaching, it is probably his ideal job.
Despite the appeal of the concept, Tim was rigorous about doing due diligence to find out more about the business and its background, identifying its achievements and successes, and evaluating how much of a long term proposition it was. Convinced it had potential and happy to farewell the long hours of travel, repetition and lack of freedom, Tim signed up as one of the earliest franchisees in the system, and has gone on to prove the value of the business model.
“I’m probably the biggest franchisee in the network based on revenue and the number of children. We run in school terms for registrations and every term I’ve grown.
“I did some figures on what the numbers would project to, but once you’re involved and under the boot you can see how it works on a daily basis and get a more defined view of how it works and where you can get success.”
Football is now the number one participation sport at junior level in Australia, and Tim’s business is tapping into that.
“I’m very passionate about the development of children, not just football. It’s more than skills, more than activity; it’s life skills they develop being part of the program.
“We get feedback from the parents that the kids can communicate better, work together better, take instruction, deal with disappointments, and have improved their confidence and sense of worth.
“It’s more meaningful. We’re giving them a lot of capabilities, getting them interested in a sport they can take into adulthood. I made a lot of my friends through team sport.
“I try really hard to develop relationships with parents. They’re trusting you to look after their children and inspire them. You become part of their lives.”
The value Tim gains from running his business is a far cry from the controlled roles he endured in the corporate world.
“You can feel just like a number, and question what impact you are having. If you can see the end result, that boosts morale. Sometimes I was flogging my guts out and couldn’t see it making a difference.”
On top of a high level of satisfaction, the franchise delivers some lifestyle benefits in the shape of freedom of choice, he said.
“I can choose to do what I want to do and when. I’m busier now than I was but it’s in my control. When you’re passionate it doesn’t feel like work. I work seven days a week, which is always the case building up a business, you put the hard yards in. But now I have full time employees and we coach nearly 400 children a week.
“It’s a long way from me and a bag of balls but you have to put the effort in.”
Are you passionate about coaching and mentoring the next generation of Australians? Take a look at these great children's franchise opportunties.