Here, we talk to former England basketball player John Dabrowski about starting motivational training company JD Mindcoach and perceptions of senior people in business.
Talk a little bit about your professional past.
I used to play basketball both professionally and also for England in the Commonwealth Games until serious injury cut short my career. I had to totally reevaluate my life on the basis of this unforeseen development but went on to become a successful manager of a premier league basketball club.
Moving on into the world of radio in the North East, I developed a love for sales and marketing, eventually becoming a radio sales manager and later an agency director in the advertising and marketing world.
I gained vast and varied experience in the business world which provided a firm foundation of skills enabling me to achieve his dream of running my own business.
Why did you choose to start a business now?
In 2008 I was asked by a business associate to help to mentally coach Dave Clarke in his attempt to row across the Atlantic single-handedly. After this successful achievement the direction of my new business was clear – I have always been a great believer in positive thinking and I realised that I could apply these techniques in other people’s lives to help them develop their own personal skills.
When I was made redundant soon afterwards the time to start my new venture seemed obvious, so in 2010 JD Mindcoach was born.
How do you think people view more senior entrepreneurs, drawing on your interactions with suppliers, customers and partners?
I truly believe that life experience is very valuable in the business world and more mature people will often have a different outlook on life and in most cases will demonstrate a very good work ethic. There seems to be calmness about them as they seek to climb the ladder at all costs.
The area of mental resilience I specialise in brings me into contact with many senior people who, in my opinion, are valuable assets to their companies. However I do feel that there is an attitude from some people who see them as over the hill with their best years behind them.
I am 61 years of age and just starting a new business. I intend to be speaking on stage at the age of 80. I believe very strongly that the perception of age can be altered by your mindset and your belief system. I am in the best shape both physically and mentally that I have been in the past 20 years. You can be 61 years of age and feel and act as though you are 40. People who know me agree with this.
As a personal example of this in action I regularly meet with senior people to seek advice and mentorship to help me move my business forward. I believe that they have talked the talk and walked the walk and they are qualified to offer advice to me.
What are your short-term and long-term plans for the business? Turnover plans?
Retirement is the last thing on my mind at the moment. I plan to work fully to the age of 65 then to scale the workload down as I go through the next 15 years.
I’d like to see the growth of my business reach £100,000 annual turnover by the end of 2016 then to rise to £200,000 over the following five years. A turnover of £250,000 is targeted for the following ten years.
How have you marketed it and raised money?
Marketing has consisted of attending networking events, speaking at events including expos, rotary clubs and conferences.
I have a website which details all services and I blog once a week to more than 300 contacts. I’m also active on social media; LinkedIn and Twitter are some of my favourite tools.
I’ve sent out many packages including a mini stress ball in the shape of a basketball and a video of me speaking, which always gets a good response. I also meet with new contacts on a weekly basis to share ideas and to get referrals for business.