From an early age I always had a passion for business, if there was a profit to be made I would want to be involved even at school. Although I always had part time jobs, education was always important and I studies Business Studies at both A Levels and at University as I was keen to gather a technical understanding of business. I also enjoyed the diversity of the subject covering all aspects of Business from Marketing, Law, Management and Finance. Whilst studying at Bournemouth University I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to work at Lloyds bank in a sales role. This was a fantastic opportunity where I was able to gather a lot of knowledge in both sales and teamwork. Being both sales and business motivated the role became very natural for me and was a position I thoroughly enjoyed.
After leaving University in 2005 I created my own sportswear business JA Sports, although I had created lots of theoretical businesses whilst studying this was my first time in practice! The main difference was the budget, whenever creating anything in practice there was always a budget to get you started! Anyway I had a clear vision of what I wanted so I just got to work, I found a supplier in Germany and was able to use a personal credit card to buy the first batch of stock. No sooner had it arrived I was selling products on ebay and on the website which I built myself. I also established a large number of UK suppliers who boosted my product line, and my parents garage and conservatory was starting to look like a wholesalers stock room! I spent a lot of time working on both the website and its Internet Marketing, and within a year the site was on Page 1 of both Google and Yahoo (which was popular believe it or not back in 2005) for popular phrases such as ‘Football kit’ and ‘team football kits’. Now I was getting orders from all over the country from clubs, teams and schools in places I hadn’t even heard of! I had also secured a lucrative deal to supply Pitch Invasion (a national 5 a side league) with all of its kits, so before I knew it I had to expand into a business premises.
I managed to get a store in Poole in late 2005, this helped the business hold more stock and offer a faster turnaround. Having a store front also opened the doors to countless new local clubs who would pop in regularly and browse the stock and brochures keen to spend their sponsor’s money! In 2006 we had moved to a bigger store, I say we because by this point there was 6 members of staff who managed the stock, deliveries, orders and most importantly the customisation of the garments. By this point we ran two websites, the original site aimed at team wear and the second one targeted towards the individual selling items such as boots, clothing and accessories. Needless to say both sites had great online exposure which accounted for a large proportion of the orders taken, during my time running this business during the early stages of the Internet I was able to build a large understanding of the Internet and the search engines. The business ran for three years in total but closed in 2008 due to the lack of sponsorship in the industry with the financial crisis, as the majority of the teams who bought from us were actually spending their sponsor’s money, and when business gets tight businesses stop spending. The experience was largely beneficial to me personally as I was able to demonstrate how you can start a business with nothing and take in to almost half a million turnover within the first two years! I now use this experience in the B2B sector offering a wide range of services to my clients in order to help their business grow.