Franchisee profile: Luke Wilson from football coaching business Little Kickers
Aged just 19, Luke Wilson recently started his own business with a Little Kickers franchise in Suffolk, providing football coaching to children from 18 months to seven years old. Here’s how he’s turned his passion into his livelihood while still a teenager.
How does it feel to be one of the youngest franchisees in the country?
Incredible, I can’t actually put into words how it feels! I feel very proud and very lucky. I am very happy to own a business, especially at my age I didnt think it would be possible.
Is it scary running your own business at just 19 years old, or exciting, or a mix of the two?
I am really excited and very motivated to get the business where I want it to be, I have always loved football from a very young age and to own a business around one of my main passions is amazing. Yeah I am a little scared, but that’s another reason why I am so motivated to make something of myself and the business.
I have got the best support from my family, I would never have dreamed of owning a business or thinking it’s achievable at my age if it wasnt for them. They have pushed me to make something of myself and I can’t thank them enough for that. Being part of a franchise has definitely made the process a lot less stressful.
What were you doing before you started the business?
I went to Cambridge Regional College and it was there where I achieved my FA Level 1 and 2 [football coaching awards] and where I managed to pass Level 3 BTEC in sport with distinction. I also had three jobs; I worked for my local Domino’s, as a lead coach at a different Little Kickers franchise and also for a different sports coaching company. It was very hard work trying to fit in all three jobs but I made it possible.
How did you first find out about franchising and why did it appeal to you?
Whilst working for Little Kickers as a lead coach I knew that there wasnt a franchise at all in my area. Once I had a couple of phone calls with head office, and after speaking to my family, I realised that franchising was for me. There is a lot of support given to you if you are a franchisee, more support than I ever thought there would be.
One of the other reasons franchising appealed to me was that an established brand name such as Little Kickers would be much better for me than to create my own sports company. Brand names already have a history and reputation, which is only going to benefit people who franchise these brand names.
And why Little Kickers in particular?
After speaking to my boss at the franchise I was at, he made it clear to me that Little Kickers was definitely for me. I have worked with a few coaching companies and age ranges, and Little Kickers fits me perfectly I love coaching that age group and I believe the age targeted by Little Kickers isnt covered by other coaching companies, which means that there is a gap in the market for this type of business.
My franchise area is brand new. I have created it which is scary but very exciting, and it’s my own project. I can’t praise Little Kickers enough. Everyone from head office is very friendly, helpful and make you feel part of a team, but at the same time let you run your business however you like which is key when franchising. The support I have had from them has been incredible. Little Kickers is a worldwide company and that is justice to how much work everyone at the company puts in.
What was the timescale and process of starting up?
I contacted Little Kickers back in January 2015 about owning a franchise in my area, then received a franchise pack that told me all the information I needed to know. I had an interview with SallI Baker from head office and straight away she made me feel welcome which was great.
I was also in the process of getting a loan from Nwes [an enterprise agency in east England], which I had to create a business plan and financial projections for. This is where a lot of research was done of my franchise area.
Once I had the loan and franchise area agreed I then had three days training in Wales by Little Kickers with Caroline, who is one of the friendliest woman I have ever met. Once this was complete I had all the information and tools ready to start building up the infrastructure of the business.
My classes started on 12 September and the feedback I have had from customers has been incredible, couldnt have wished for a better start.
Paul Stafford is the British Franchise Association's PR manager, which allows him ample opportunity to indulge in two of his passions: writing and business. A background in various SMEs led Stafford to the franchise sector in 2012 and a role which sees him work closely with businesses of all sizes and sectors, from international giants to kitchen table startups.
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