Shea established Inside Hockey – an online platform offering digital resources to coaches and players of all ages and skill levels – to help them learn the game.
He was struggling to take the business to the next level before participating in the Athlete365 Business Accelerator programme.
Through the online course, an in-person workshop and one-to-one mentoring, he has now been able to drive forward the development of his business.
My thoughts around starting a business, which became Inside Hockey, were that I knew my time was going to come to an end in hockey, and I was trying to find a way that I could stay within the game, even when I’ve finished. It was one of those funny situations where you just start doing things and you’re not really sure what your purpose is, and then you kind of stumble into something.
I always wanted to do something in the hockey space but wasn’t quite sure what would work. And then the older I got, and obviously the more experience I got within the sport outside the playing side of it, the more I actually learnt what’s missing. So, it was through that that I thought this would be a really good platform within the hockey world.
Making an idea a reality
I was in the early stages of the business when I came across the Athlete365 Business Accelerator programme. At that stage, what we had was more of a social media company and nothing else other than that. We were trying to think of ways that we could potentially make it bigger and monetise it, so I thought I’d give the programme a go and do the online course, which was pretty user-friendly. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really interactive; there were videos and little tasks that we had to complete to get through each stage.
When you start something like this, you’re never sure if you’re really going to do it, but I think most athletes are willing to have a go at something new. And the cool thing was that what started as an idea became a little more real.
IT WAS REALLY COOL INTERACTING WITH LIKE-MINDED ATHLETES FROM OTHER SPORTS, BECAUSE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THEIR VISION AND THEIR PASSION.
I then got through to the next stage of the programme, which was a two-day workshop that they ran in New Zealand. It was really cool interacting with like-minded athletes from other sports, because you can understand their vision and their passion. The next step is making that passion become a reality, and the educators who came to talk to us were great for that. They were challenging us and helping us see that, just because we have an idea and just because we’re passionate about it, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work. There’s a lot of groundwork that needs to happen underneath to actually make it real.
That was probably the biggest challenge for me; trying to step back from what I’d thought would work, and then look at it from different angles. And that’s where interacting with other athletes was really useful, because we could then challenge each other on different areas so that we could think outside the box.
I know that it’s a clichéd comment but, in terms of business, thinking outside the box is one of the biggest things I’ve learnt. You can’t be driven by one idea and think that it’s going to happen just because you believe in it. Sometimes, as athletes, we can get caught up in our singlemindedness, so I really recommend trying to think outside your bubble, outside the box, and seeing things from a different perspective.
The value of a mentor
I was lucky enough to be selected for the six-month accelerated mentoring, and that’s been invaluable; just having a sounding board, someone who’s not within your sport, who will challenge you and critique you, but support you the whole way through. I’d probably say I’m a little bit on the demanding side of things, but my mentor, Pamela Bell [an Olympian in snowboarding], has been phenomenal.
I WhatsApp her, email her, call her all the time, and she’s been the one who’s been challenging me and getting me to think outside the box. She’s also really willing to connect me with other people who she thinks might be able to help me. That’s been a real cool part for me as well.
Being a part of this programme has definitely accelerated my business. Without the programme, I reckon I’d probably be another 18 months away from where I am now. If you were just on your own, life can get in the way.
But because you’ve got a mentor, someone looking over your shoulder and driving you to push yourself to do more, the whole process has been really sped up. Now, I’m really driven to get my business off the ground.
“It might spark an idea within you”
My number one piece of advice for other athletes would be: even if you don’t have a business idea or an entrepreneurial idea, just give the course a go anyway, because it might spark an idea within you. It just sparks different thoughts, and I think that’s one of the cool things about the programme.
And for those of you who have an idea but haven’t quite been able to make it a reality, I would definitely advise you to get involved as well. It’s definitely worthwhile because it doesn’t cost us anything other than time. It’s a pretty cool programme that Athlete365 has put out for us, so why not give it a go?
BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT A MENTOR, SOMEONE LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER AND DRIVING YOU TO PUSH YOURSELF TO DO MORE, THE WHOLE PROCESS HAS BEEN REALLY SPED UP. NOW, I’M REALLY DRIVEN TO GET MY BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND.