We all grew up with dreams and aspirations, wanting to be firemen, nurses, ballerinas and footballers. By the time we hit secondary school the lucky few of us who’ve found our calling start working to achieve our career goals. James was one of these lucky few. Having fallen in love with football at an early age as many children in Britain do, James had the opportunity to start making this dream a reality. From the ages of 12-18 James was signed to a professional football club and played as a pro for 2 years before his dreams came crashing down when injury struck.
Having to form a new career plan at just 18, James enrolled onto the business studies and marketing course at Southampton Solent University. Shortly after graduating in 2014, James landed himself his first sales job, staying for only 6 short weeks.
Despite being unable to play, James’s love for football had not faded and he found himself taking on a position as an area organiser for a local sports coaching company. As one of only 7 employees at the time, James worked his way up to become the Director of Coaching within three and a half years. With the company turning over £300k as he joined and an incredible £1.2million now, you would think the role James had achieved would be a great career achievement alone, but it wasn’t all to come.
Feeling as though a change was due, James moved on to work with other professional clubs before becoming the Assistant Academy Director at AFC Bournemouth. With over 2 years at Bournemouth, James continued to work with various clubs in both their academies as well as scouting in the Football League and Premier League. Despite loving the job itself, James became discontent with the football industry and realised he was never really happy.
As James began his new venture, luckily with an old contact from his football days that he trusted greatly, they figured it out and created a franchise still profitable to this day. With his partner’s contacts and knowledge they were able to create a great franchise, which now takes up about 4 hours a week of work and provides a weekly income every Friday.
At this point James realised how much more there was to work than just becoming a face within many, moving from city to city as he had in the football industry. No longer putting his trust in the industry, James moved on to bigger and better things, deciding then to take on a role within a training company in Sussex working with young people no longer in education, employment or training, through sport. Having worked for them for just over a year, only 3 weeks into the academic term of his second year with the company, James was informed over the telephone that the company had been liquidated overnight. With no prior knowledge of the company’s poor financial state, James found himself no longer employed as of the next day.
While for many this would be a shock and make many people panic or question their options, James saw this as an opportunity. While the experience was an awful one, it did lead James to realise the potential. Knowing that he could succeed where that company had failed, My-Coaching was formed. Having started as his first full time business in February 2013, by December that year the business was incorporated and the limited company My Coaching Education Ltd was formed. The business did not begin as many start-ups’ do. With three employees working for the company and only a £4,000 turn over it wasn’t an easy start. With an investment of £10,000 personal money, the company still needed a £8,000 turnover to break even.
With the financial problems and stresses, James started keeping secrets from his family and employees. Beating staff into work every morning to check the bank account to prioritise what could be paid that day and what could be delayed just to be able to ensure his employees pay cheques at the end of the month. James hated this period and began to examine himself, and the business, in order to better run the company. In August of the first trading year, James found the Entrepreneurial Circle. By joining, James began to grow as a businessperson and notice the negative daily actions causing problems within the company. Eventually realising things needed to change to stay afloat, small positives began to be seen in the company, despite things having not gotten easier.
One night on the way home, James was informed that a college client had not paid a vital invoice. Without this money there was no way to meet payroll and monthly bill payments. Despite days and days of promising the invoice would be paid, the client failed to make the payment. Stopping in the services for a coffee on his way back, James checked the bank account. Seeing the payment was not there was all too much, James started to cry knowing at that point it would mean the business was over. With the situation too dire to ignore anymore, James finally opened up to his family sharing the secrets he’d hidden for a long time. Luckily his family were supportive about the issues and James’s sister agreed to help recover the money due. As a finance director of a large company, she knew what to do and how, quickly recovering the money from the college client within just three days. With the success of this, James’s sister joined the team on a permanent basis, taking over the finances as Financial Director.
This was a turning point for My Coaching Education Ltd. Realising the importance of hiring in the areas that aren’t your strengths is so vital to the success of a business, especially in the important aspects such as finance. With stable finance management and the support of businessperson development with EC it’s been an upward journey since! They began to land big contracts with national partners and large corporations, became a recognised training provider for 5 city councils and 6 county councils supporting schools and education for 16-24 year olds, as well as providing apprenticeships.
Finding a point where their expansion meant their brand no longer matched their services, 18 months ago the brands were split to reflect each business component. Now with three businesses to focus on, while looking for further regional expansion, James has found his stride. The My Coaching Education Ltd story has been featured in the Entrepreneurs Circular magazine in February, and James has been made a associate fellow at Southampton Solent University this March.
If you had asked James at 16 what he thought his career would have been, he’d have believed pro football was his path, at 19, or even 5 years ago, I am sure he would never have guessed where he would be now. With a completely different career plan and dream that had to be rethought and re-planned, James has moved between some amazing opportunities and jobs over the years. With such an incredible business now, it really couldn’t have worked out better in the end. There’s always going to be difficulties and set backs in life and in career, and James has had more than his fair share. But despite these set backs this story just proves that if you keep moving forward, keep giving your all, you can get there in the end and have some amazing experiences on the way. It’s easy to get set on one dream, but maybe there’s a better dream out there. The only way you’ll know is if you keep moving forward and keep learning.
To find out more about My Coaching, or to get in touch check out their website here