#SelfStarterStories: From being a tennis coach to becoming a high-performance coach
This week's #selfstarterstory features Mike McDonnell, Founder of Michael McDonnell International.
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Mike to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
What was your last job?: Saturday job working behind the bar at my local tennis club. I spent a lot of time making drinks and doing general jobs around the club as I was only sixteen at the time. I was inspired by the tennis coaches, helping others and improving people. That's what got me wanting to become a tennis coach.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I started my first tennis coaching business due to me wanting to help people and my first coach saying that I was a good player and should get into coaching.
Then, my desire for wanting to help more, help people in a more powerful way, motivated me to transition into personal training even with cystic fibrosis and diabetes; after that I realised that the one thing that can improve many different aspects of people's lives was the mind and why we do what we do, so I moved into high-performance mindset coaching and started self-studying on things like the mind, the brain and human behaviour.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: The most challenging part was believing I was good enough to create a service that was worth charging for.
When my tennis coach told me that I was a good player, so I should get into coaching, it was like I had permission and that I was good enough to help others in that area.
When I was a personal trainer, I realised that even with my health conditions that I was still able to be the same (if not better) than average health and fitness wise, and my desire to help people encouraged me to get into helping people with their fitness and losing weight.... almost "If I can do it, then I can help others do it."
Mindset coaching was different, to step out as a mindset coach all on my own meant that I didn't have the initial positive boost that told me that I was good enough to help other entrepreneurs with their mental states. But, the more positive feedback I got, the more people actually got value from the things I was doing for free, the more I started to believe in myself more and actually think that I was good enough to do what I wanted to do.
What is your favourite business book and why?: My favourite business book is “How to win friends and influence people” as it helped me understand how to build relationships with people which I turn helped me with my business.
I realised early on that for me to be a success, I had to learn a lot about communication and how to spread my message in a way that is well received. To do that, I had to learn about people, but the different ways of interacting with people so that I could make the most of every person I was connected with.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I do a lot myself in terms of the actual service but business-wise I tend to hire out for things like website design and advertising. I'm a believer in trying to spend the majority of my time at what I'm best at and accepting that I don't need to be great at everything.
What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Facebook (Running a Facebook group and connecting with more people in other groups too) and Instagram (posting valuable content)
How do you market your business?: Usually, on social media, I run my own Facebook group and I spend time engaging in other groups speaking to my audience. I also run ads and post on Instagram daily. The biggest part of my marketing is really just getting out there with Facebook live, posts and sharing my knowledge.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: I posted in some Facebook groups and made sure that I was actually helping people with the content I was creating. I had to find the people that I could help, so searching for groups of the people I could help and wanted to help was my starting point, asking them questions, finding out more about them and how I could help.
I then offered some free calls for people that wanted more than I was providing through my content. Some people were happy with just the content, but some wanted more, and I sold from there.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Sharing my website on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: My parents ... if it wasn’t for them saying: “If it’s what you really want to do, then do it”... I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d say that it’s that initial belief that helped me get to where I am today.
They just wanted me to do what I wanted to do, and always worked to not force me down a particular road; and I think that's what helped me become independent, know what I wanted to do and follow my own intuition with the decisions I've made.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: The advice I’d give is to only do enough learning and research for the first couple of steps; all too often you can go on all the courses, read all the books and listen to hundreds of different people about everything around the business you want to start. I've noticed that this constant searching for information is what stops a lot of people from taking any action at all.
You don’t need to know the entire process and journey; do what you need to do to start. Figure out what you need to know, learn it, start your business, then figure the rest out as you go; it's amazing what you can learn through your own experience.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: I'd have dinner with Tony Robbins, he spends his life helping others in a powerful way and it allows him to change the world. I think he’d have a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.
To stay up to date with Mike's entrepreneurial journey, please find him on his social media channels below:
Mike McDonnell has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.