Matthew Lawn was motivated to start Football Squirts following time spent in the USA coaching football to children. Upon returning to the UK, he researched the market and found that while numerous companies offered coaching to older children, there was a niche in the under-six age category.
Lawn set up Football Squirts in 2008 and talks to inspiresme about his entrepreneurial journey so far.
Q: You’ve said that you were inspired by your experience running a soccer school in the USA, however starting your own business is a huge leap. Were you always confident you could be successful?
A: I knew I had the desire and work ethic to succeed. However, I’ll be the first to admit it has been a steep learning curve, and continues to be. My advice for any new start-ups would be, take risks, remain focussed on your USP and believe in yourself.
Q: How did you fund the business?
A: I funded my business through a small amount of capital (£200 approximately) that I had saved during my time in America. The money was used to buy the first set of equipment for Football Squirts.
Q: How have you set about marketing Football Squirts?
A: Providing a professional and reliable service ensures customers remain satisfied and also tell their friends and family about the product. A large proportion of my marketing and promotion is based solely on word of mouth. In my opinion there is no better form of marketing and promotion than through your existing client base.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far?
A: Each day creates a new challenge. However, the initial six months without any substantial capital to invest and studying full time proved a difficult period in terms of managing my work load, while remaining focussed on establishing football squirts.
Q: What affect do you think tournaments like Euro 2012 have in terms of inspiring children to take up football?
A: It’s fantastic for young children to view their idols on the biggest stage possible. Children look up to elite players and are inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs starting up in business?
A: Take a risk, listen to advice from experienced, established entrepreneurs and most importantly you need to have sufficient knowledge of your business sector.
Q: What are your thoughts on creating a successful home/work life balance?
A: It’s difficult to completely switch off at home; I believe finding a balance between the two is important. I do also believe taking time to reflect is essential to a healthy mind and effective business practise.
Q: Do you think an individual has to possess certain skills and characteristics in order to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: I have been to conferences and listened to inspirational speakers regarding entrepreneurial spirit etc. In my opinion you don’t just wake up an entrepreneur, you have to have an idea or concept which is worth developing. Once you understand the way in which you intend to grow your business, strategic planning will ensure forward thinking and outline achievable goals to work towards. Once in place, and combined with drive, passion and commitment to succeed, the business will have every chance of success.
Q: What stops you from giving up when things aren’t going your way?
A: I think about my passion for working with young children, and the benefits that Football Squirts provides children, as it offers an opportunity for personal, social and emotional development through fun football classes.
Q: What are your plans for the business going forward?
A: Football Squirts will launch nationwide within the next 12 months, there is also an exciting new project I’m working on, Sport Squirts.
Sports Squirts will launch in January 2013 and provide young children between the ages of two and six with an opportunity to experience a wide range of sports.
The aim within a two year period is to have both Football Squirts and Sport Squirts established nationwide, and in five years potentially going worldwide.