Inside Franchise Business - - Leadership -

Alife­long 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,” says Tim.

Through that process and through con­nec­tions, he was in­tro­duced to the kids sport busi­ness Sport 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 says.

“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.”

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