Name: Michael Olatunji
Course: BSC International Business Management
Intense and repeated physical activity causes stress to your muscles, tendons and ligament tissue. Without adequate recovery this stress can cause you to hit a plateau in performance or lead to an overuse injury such as stress fractures, pulled muscles or joint pain. This can eventually prevent you from competing or training.
At Currant Sports Recovery we offer weekly Sports Recovery sessions consisting of hydrotherapy, muscle recovery and active recovery, which are all designed to:
- Relax tight muscles
- Relieve muscle soreness
- Reduce joint pain/inflammation
- Prevent injuries.
Our philosophy is simple; by recovering effectively after training and competition, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can perform at their best consistently as well as significantly reduce their risk of injury.
How did UEA Student Enterprise help you?
The monthly meetings that I had with Finbarr Carter (Student Enterprise and Employability Officer at UEA) were of huge benefit. They opened my eyes to the different aspects of creating a start up, knowledge that wasn’t provided by an academic degree. Skills such as designing a website so that it communicates effectively to visitors, and maintaining social media profiles that demonstrate what you do in the fewest words possible, are just a few examples of those that helped. The grant we won from UEA Student Enterprise also assisted us in making our service meet the standard we envisioned.
What worries did you have while setting up your business, and how did you overcome them?
Setting up a business sounds glamorous, but I learnt very quickly that, in reality, it is a difficult process. However, you don’t see it as an inconvenience when you love what you do, you see it as more of a puzzle. Of course, the main concerns are limited finances. The way we overcame this was by being creative, learning new skills, and accessing the resources we did have available to us, the expertise our friends and connections had for example. This creativity helped us tremendously and continues to do so. We recently managed to shoot a professional advert with as little as £200, design a professional website with the assistance and expertise of our friends, and also run an initial launch event which attracted one hundred and seventy young football players. All this came from our creativity, persistence and determination. I would say this has been a journey which nothing could have prepared us for, but ultimately, a positive journey which has formed our characters, in acquiring new skills and knowledge and in forcing us to deal with situations outside of our comfort zone.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business rather than look for work from someone else?
When I was at college, I believed what everybody had always told me was the right thing to do, to work for a prestigious company, and climb the corporate ladder. Having undergone several internships in various banks, law firms and events companies, I knew that this was not what I wanted to be doing for the next forty years of my life, so I looked into alternatives. I was attracted to the idea of starting my own business, as I could use my aptness for creativity and forward-thinking. I am aware of the high failure rates of business start-ups, but to me, even if I were to fail this time, I can start again as a better, more experienced entrepreneur; there is no loss, only gain.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Fearlessness: Just going for it, and committing despite the reservations you may have is the most important skill, I think. It’s easy to be tentative, and attempt only to take action when the time is right, but the truth is, no time is really the right time. Be the go-getting type, who may get things wrong the first time, but always learns from their mistakes, rather than the maybe-next-year type, who will never learn those important, character-forming lessons.
- Initiative: Honestly, you cannot prepare to be an entrepreneur. You will encounter new scenarios, and you won’t know what to do. But you have to do something. This is why initiative is so important. This might mean researching new topics so that you are better informed, or finding new platforms through which to engage with your customers or clients, or learning a new skill that not only improves you as an individual, but also makes your business money. Starting up, you may have little to no capital, but by using your initiative, you will find a way to make it work.
- Team work: As much as individuality plays a huge part in the success of a business, and as much as we uphold and recognise everybody as an individual, the success of the individual is owed partly to a talented and hardworking team. Learning to work as a team, taking the criticism of others, and delegating tasks according to everybody’s individual strengths is key to success.
What motivates you?
First and foremost, knowing I will wake up every day and work on something that makes me feel fulfilled and happy. Secondly, knowing that the potential for failure is always there, and that the alternative is an unfulfilling career, is what motivates me to work harder.
How do you define success?
For me, success is a continuous process, not just a moment in time or something that can be materially quantified, for example by money, or extravagances. Of course, having a business that can enable you to sustain a comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle is a part of why you would start a business. But for me, the continuous process of turning an idea into something tangible that I can look upon and feel a sense of achievement in feels like success to me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
In August of 2014, we conducted a pilot of the business for a month. We held a launch event, which attracted a total of 170 young football players. During the course of the month, we had 45 players return as paying customers. This has been the most satisfying moment so far, because we proved our idea really does solve a problem, and that people believe in our business.
What piece of advice would you give to university students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Go for it, accept realities, and focus on priorities.
Go for it: you might have an idea that you think has something, but you need to take some steps in order to make it happen. No matter how daunting starting from nothing may seem, get the ball rolling. If you aren’t sure whether your idea will solve the problem or fulfil the need you envisage, do your research. Actually go out and ask. Ask your target market what problems they face, ask them to review your solution, get a sense of who they are and what they want. My business partners and I went to local parks and football clubs over a six-week period, asking players what they thought of our idea, and encouraging them to sign up.
Accept realities: business is tough, make no illusions about that. 90% of new businesses fail within the first five years. This is no easy ride, and not something you can do half-heartedly. You’re going to have to work incredibly hard to battle that statistic. Having a good idea is not enough. It is the time and effort you invest that will determine whether people will use your product or service. Be creative and have fun, but also prepare for the hard work.
Focus on priorities: the focus of your business should be to create a product or a service that generates a cash flow. I know this seems obvious, but I’ve met far too many people who get distracted, renting offices, buying fancy business cards and trying to create this image of entrepreneurship before they’ve sold even a single product. As a start-up with little to no capital, you have to sacrifice the frivolities and the luxuries. You may envisage your product that way, with all the flashy features, but if you can’t afford it yet, don’t worry about it. Until you have made a product or delivered a service that people feel is good enough to pay for, then this stuff is not a priority. How you invest time and money should be based on how your product/service helps your customer, how to best communicate your message to the customer, and how you attract paying customers. Focus on the priority of making money, and cut down on unnecessary expenditure.
Finally, I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to UEA Student Enterprise for all the support it has provided and continues to provide. Thank you for believing in us right from when our business was just a concept.