How Beth Tweddle MBE turned her passion for gymnastics into a successful business
You’ll probably know Beth Tweddle MBE as Britain’s most successful female gymnast but, following retirement, the Olympic medallist has turned her attention to entrepreneurship.
In doing so, Beth did something a lot of people do when starting their own business – taking a past career and turning it into a new one.
That’s how Beth Tweddle Gymnastics was born. The business was created to give children the opportunity to get involved in gymnastics, allowing Beth to bring her passion for the sport to a whole new generation.
“When you speak to a lot of people, they’re having to travel quite a distance to be able to access facilities and there are also huge waiting lists,” Beth told the audience of GoDaddy’s second Back to Business Masterclass.
“Sometimes there can be up to half a million children waiting to have a go at gymnastics.”
The size of these waiting lists often means that by the time a child is offered the opportunity to try gymnastics, they’ve found another sport.
For that reason, Beth is trying to make sure as many children as possible get involved in gymnastics.
“Gymnastics is such a key fundamental sport,” she said. “It teaches you so many basic movements, so actually I just want children to have a go at gymnastics.
“I don’t necessarily want them to become the next Olympian or the next world champion. It’s about having exposure to the sport, gaining those fundamental movements, learning those softer skills that you get from being active.
“Then off the back of that, they can do whatever they want with those skill sets.”
Beth describes this approach as the company’s mission statement, which has helped the business tackle the issue of brand positioning.
“The brand has got my name in it,” she explained. “And we are a recreational-based gymnastics class rather than an elite base.
“So it’s making sure parents understand that from the start, so when they turn up they’re not expecting the lead up to an Olympic pathway for their kids.
“Obviously, we work with local clubs should a child express an interest in taking things further.”
It’s an important lesson for any business owner – position your brand so that people know what to expect.
For Beth Tweddle Gymnastics, its website, www.bethtweddlegymnastics.co.uk, plays a crucial part in getting that brand message across.
“We have intro videos, we have lots of content to make sure that the expectation is managed so that when they actually turn up to a facility, they know what to expect,” Beth said.
Beth believes this positioning is one of the key areas to focus on for anyone just starting out.
“Work out exactly what it is that you want to do, what it is that you want to be successful at. What are your business priorities?”
“For me, it was providing a world-class customer journey from the moment they Google Beth Tweddle Gymnastics to walking into that venue.”
She added: “It’s understanding what your main priority is. Don’t try and do a million things, just focus in on one or two or three things that you want to be really good at.
“If you’ve got your mission, your vision, your company values you can always go back to your ‘why’. ‘Why do I do this? What is that main reason for doing it?’.”
With this in place, you can look at getting your new business online.
“A website is key,” Beth said. “That’s the first point of call. For us, people will Google ‘Beth Tweddle Gymnastics’ and that is their first experience of what we are as a business.
“So you want to make sure that your website clearly portrays your offer.
She added: “We’ve worked really hard on the website. Making sure it’s customer friendly, that it’s vibrant and really colourful.”
It’s also important to ensure your website is designed with your target audience in mind: “There’s always a clear call to action on the site. So, if people are logging on to the website, it’s really clear in the top corner how to ‘find a class’. So parents think ‘right, I want to find a class for my child, click on that button’ and they can find where all our local classes are.”
Once you have your website, you can look at ways of driving potential customers to it, just like Beth Tweddle Gymnastics.
“We use Facebook, we use Instagram, we use Twitter,” Beth explained. “The two that we primarily use for paid ads are Instagram and Facebook because they’ve got great tools to target the customers that we want to reach.”
She added: “We do use Twitter, more for organic posts and also linking in with schools.”
Beth clearly has a strong idea of which social channels the business’s potential customers use and it should be the same for your business. You can learn more about building a social media marketing strategy in this guide.
Next on the agenda for Beth Tweddle Gymnastics is growth: “We’ve currently got one purpose-built facility and then 10 venues where we hire leisure centres or school halls.
“Ultimately, I want the brand to go nationwide. I want more children to have the opportunity to have a go at gymnastics. And do you know what? They may love it, they may hate it but unless they get that opportunity to try it, they’ll never find out.”