Running Sport Projects can be a hectic, challenging and non-stop experience but after three years it’s worth taking some time to reflect on the journey so far.
We are always busy which is great, but it means you don’t always get around to everything you want to… writing about our third birthday three months after the fact probably points to that!
Without big expectations or any particularly lofty goals, I embarked on establishing the Sport Projects entity back in 2015. I had been consulting here and there on the side for several years and so the concept of setting up a formal side project had been on the radar for a while.
The catalyst for starting the business came in 2015. After working at Cycling Australia for two years as General Manager of Events at Cycling Australia the organisation went through a radical re-structure and a re-calibration. As a result the event delivery arm was packed up. With the writing on the wall, I accepted a redundancy package (along with several others) and started out looking for a next step. I had a decision to make at this point,– do I stay in the ‘always challenging, occasionally enjoyable, sometimes rewarding’ world of events, or do I shift laterally and try plying my skills and knowledge in a wider and different industry?
Whilst exploring the options that might be out there, both in and out of events, I set about establishing Sport Projects, inventing a logo, building my own website, establishing a new domain and a business name. I then began sharing the word around to my network, which had grown into quite a list, after the best part of 15 years operating in the events space. I also spent time in various agencies, in project management and operational delivery roles, as well doing some small consultancies for various organisations. The UCI made contact and I agreed to an ongoing role assisting with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games preparation.
I’m an ambitious person, but I didn’t have a lofty set of goals for the business. I was, however, adamant about what I didn’t want it to be. It wasn’t going to be a business that drove its staff (and its owner) into the ground. It wasn’t going to be just another event operator, overworking its staff, over-promising and under-delivering to clients and taking on more projects than there were weekends. Three years on and the focus hasn’t changed. Friendly, helpful and people focused. My passion for events has re-emerged.
The business fully leverages the fact that it is small and agile, based in a humble but functional office, with just the right number of staff. As I like to say… keep the overheads down and the service up. But small, you bet. A small business grant through local government assisted with the move from home into an office and we haven’t looked back.
I have learnt so much and worn so many hats through the first few years. I have had every part of the start-up experience. When I got underway as the business owner I was constantly swapping hats. I was Director, marketing manager, HR manager, event director, course manager, IT Manager (building our first website myself), bookkeeper, cleaner and, of course, admin manager….oh boy, the admin…excruciating!
But… being your own boss is so much more rewarding. I have always considered myself the type of person who has worked for a business and applied myself like it was my own – I’m a big believer in that. But when it is indeed your own it really is a game changer. There’s similar stress but more reward and a flexibility to work when you choose to work (ok…noted, that’s nearly always…) and where you work. The challenge that continues to present itself is in many ways a positive one. Never have I felt such tangibility in terms of reward for effort. When you work hard you see results directly. It’s a challenge because the temptation is to over-work yourself, which remains my Achilles heel. The people close to me know it manifests itself in my red-eye. My challenge for the next three years…reduce the redeye!
Slowly, I have been removing the hats, by building a capable, reliable and sustainable team. It remains the most enjoyable part for me. When you get to recruit the people you want, smart operators and always good quality humans, it makes every day so much better.
So, the business continues to grow, the positive word of mouth seems to keep flowing and we have great projects and great clients! An honest approach and being a good person seems to work most of the time and most importantly, I get to have breakfast with my two boys nearly every morning.
Now only if people could say Sport Projects and not Sports Projects. Google us today… actually, you can google either 😉