Episode 20 – Parent Volunteer or Business Leader?

Your Sports Resource

In this episode, Renata discusses how leaders in youth sports need to make the mental shift in accepting their true roles. She talks about how you are not a parent volunteer, you are a Board Member and a Business Leader. You are not just a head coach, you are a business leader. Her opinion is that the sooner clubs start behaving as the business they are, the easier it is to achieve their vision and create an incredible opportunity for the youth and families they serve.

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Introduction 00:00:00

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast, where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in Youth Sports Leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone, it’s Renata here from Your Sports Resource Podcast. Welcome to today’s episode.


Today, I’m going to talk about something that means a lot to me, and it means a lot to me because it’s actually the beginning of where sports leadership takes control of the business.


So, in the next two episodes, I’m going to talk about a shift in perception or mindset. Are you just a parent volunteer or are you a business leader? And are you just a coach or are you a business leader, right?


Those statements kind of sound condescending, but it’s an honest question and one that I repeat often to my clients when we’re kind of stuck in that circle of yeah but’s and if only right or when they’re hyper-focused on a small subset of families instead of the broader organization right, so I always tend to ask them.


Are you a Parent volunteer or are you a Business Leader? Are you a Coach or are you a Business Leader? OK.


So yeah, common sense when trying to work through things, but I would venture to say that the majority of clubs don’t lead from that perspective, right?


I’m a business leader perspective. It’s always ah, I’m just ah whatever, and I’m trying my best, right? I’m only a coach and I’m trying my best.


OK, really, to quote, my grandmother gives me agita. So, what I want to do in today’s episode is really just work through these statements logically and hopefully get you to start viewing things a bit differently.


I’m going to go through the basics, so to speak, and then I want to talk to you about as if you’re running a small business.


A small business owner, and then if you’re a growing business owner or emerging business owner and hopefully this will help you in your leadership team put things in a bit more perspective, OK?


And if not or if you feel like you need more help, please write me info at www.yoursportsresource.com.  And you know, let’s just give it a good conversation if I, if I confuse you more than I help you all right.


So, let’s just get into this. So, let’s start with the easy stuff.


You’ve no doubt have filed paperwork with the Secretary of State in your state claiming that you are a business, OK. You employ people whether it’s just yourself or 40 others.


You provide a service, and you take money for it. You exchange money for it. You engage in practices and efforts so you can serve your membership like you have a website.


You collect money online. You time track employees. You have these things that help you run your business, right.


Lastly, you file all of your compliance paperwork whether it’s to your governing body like USA Swimming, USA Soccer, whatever that may be, or to the state or the IRS, right?


So, all of these things right here simply state that you are a business. You are not just some kid sports clubs. Even if you’re a non-profit, you are still a business, and this is another area where I find really odd.


People, I mean more times than not often equate a non-profit as somehow less than a traditional business It’s really weird, right? No, it’s not less than.


It just means that how you conduct your business is different, right? It’s still a business. There are still compliance, and expectations, right.


So, if you are a business then you must lead and run it like a business, not like some side hustle. Not like, gosh, I just hope for the best and hope that things fall into place. No, I don’t want you to go in that direction, right?


You are a business in a community where parents trust you and trust that you will provide them and their children with the service of learning a sport.


How to be a good sport? Where their kids can interact with each other, other children right build bonds, learn responsibility and become positive young adults and yet coaching is part of that. But it’s not all.


It’s how you effectively run your business as a business because if you can’t run your business effectively, then how will you attract the best coaches and keep them and train them? How can you provide them opportunities and benefits?


So, they’ll want to stay and build a great culture? How will you hold them accountable to the quality of their delivery? How will you ensure everyone is responsible for their role? How will you attract and retain members?


How will you be a force in the community? How will you be the club that parents tell other parents that they should join?


You know they’ll talk to him and say that’s because you know, hey, the I want you to join this club because the coaches are awesome. They know what they’re doing.


The kids love them, they’re really professional, they have a passion for what they do, and it all shows on and off the field or in and out of the pool, however, you want to say it right.


If you can’t run your business efficiently, then how will you have a seamless onboarding of new staff and new membership? How will you pay your people accurately and timely? How do you collect dues accurately and timely that one like throws me for a loop all the time?


That there’s so many clubs out there that are so inefficient on the simplest of things, like collecting money. How will you manage your volunteers, so they don’t run away screaming but come back for more right?


We don’t want them running away screaming. We want them coming back for more and even recruit other volunteers.


If you can’t build relationships like a business leader, then how will you be top of mind for community leaders, other business owners, and stakeholders.


If you haven’t worked hard on your relationship, who’s going to tell you or help you if a competing team is moving in? Who will notify you if the city or the school, or whomever that you use where you use their facility, that they’re going to close it and you depend on that.


So, if you haven’t built those relationships, you won’t get advanced notice. You’ll get a notice after the decision is already made.


Right, so I kind of went off on a rant there, but yeah, I kind of wish that I could do a bit of a snippet from that share movie where she says “snap out of it!” right again I know that you know all of this, but that doesn’t mean that you put it into action or that your board does.


So, let’s move into if you’re a small business owner and then a growing or emerging business owner, OK. But first, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the consulting services that I offer. I work with Youth Sports Clubs both for and for not profit or not for profit.


And, I can help you improve the direction of your organization and how the board and the head coaches work together. Sometimes clubs just really need an objective individual to work with them and to pull things together.


My consulting services do just that. My approach to working with these sports clubs is to work in a way where you have a detailed game plan to implement right away, I stay away from theory fluff drives me nuts.


I’m here to work and to ensure that your club can move out of the old mindsets and sameness and move into running your clubs like the business it is just like this podcast episode is about. Together moving from surviving to thriving with options.


So, send me an e-mail and we can schedule a no-obligation call where we can discuss your areas of concern that e-mail is info at www.yoursportsresource.com. OK, so let’s get into it.


If you were to consider yourself a small business owner, you are most likely a small coach-run team or you may be a board-run, parent-run team, but you’re really just developing in those practices.


Chances are you’re in a space that most entrepreneurs find themselves in when they kick off a business, you have either a great idea or a great skill or desire being a coach and that’s why you’ve started this, OK. You’re just trying to make something of it.


Usually, your business at this point is comprised of you know, everyone is a doer but more importantly, you are the doer for everyone.


OK, so what you need to do differently is to get real about what you can do versus what you should be doing.


My guess is if you’re a coach-run team that you’re doing at all. You’re doing all the marketing. All the admin, practices, managing all of the staff. Again, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should, it takes a leader or someone who wants to behave like a business leader to step back and go.


OK, my excellence is here in doing seasonal plans for athletes and while I can do the onboarding of new members, I probably could automate some of it and hand over the rest to someone else.


That will free me up to focus on you know, not only the seasonal plans but maybe even the long-term athlete development or development of my staff.


OK, so you see my point in there that I’m saying that you really need to take a step back and go just because I can do it all, it doesn’t mean that I should be doing it all.


OK, now this might mean that you need to find volunteers or buy apps or programs or adjust someone’s job description to take on bits and pieces of other items off of your plate but if you want to run this as a business, so it grows and serves, then that’s what you have to do.


It’s not OK to let 30 balls drop because you don’t know how to juggle 40 balls. Does that make if I were to paint a picture for you, right?


You will never serve your membership well, ever. Yes, it’s daunting to hand over responsibilities, things to others, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.


Just make sure that you train them, and you set the expectation to hold them to it but it is not just easier if you do it yourself. That’s another phrase that I feel like I might slap people if I hear one more time.


I don’t care how delusional you are, it is not just easier if you do it yourself. It may seem that way or feel that way in the handover and the training, and then learning that process might take longer.


But in the long run, it allows you the freedom to focus on the areas that you should be focusing on so that’s a big crock to say. It’s just easier if you do it yourself.


If you have a club that has a board and it’s just starting out, it’s the same thing. You just have more people to share the load with, and here’s the thing.


If you start your organization with board members who can’t lead or do any of the skills that you need and just want to be there for show, you know now is the time to very nicely say no, thank you.


Start your club off on the right foot. You need doers. You need people who are going to set the organization up for success.


A board that has vision and can see you as the business that you are, that they take ownership in being the President and the Secretary, and they have the skills to do so.


They are not just some parent-volunteer. They are a business leader and for those of you who are on a board, keep in mind that you are on the hook as a business leader, whether you think so or not, OK.


If the club fails or God forbid something horrible happens, you are on the hook. You are a business leader whether you play the part or not.


OK, so what I’d ask you to do as a board member is to think of your board as your partners in business. Just like if you walked down the street and opened, I don’t know a fast-food joint, OK?


So, for a small club, quit trying to do it all. Go piece by piece. Break off the items that you can hand over to others, maybe even eventually create a new role who handles a large chunk of this work, but don’t be afraid to be creative and use your volunteers.


There’s always people out there who have skills and who want to help out. You just need to find them.


Actually, there’s I’ve got several podcasts that talk about how to navigate and find the right volunteers and I think there’s one titled Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers that one is going to have the most information, obviously. So, go listen to that episode and I think it’ll help you.


OK, so let’s talk about If you’re an emerging or growing business owner.


From my perspective, this means you need more rigor around your job descriptions and clarity of roles. This is where most companies, not just sports organizations falter.


When there is a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities, you create inefficiencies problems over the silliest of things and usually at least one person who doesn’t take ownership.


Now, I’m not saying you have to have everything scripted, you know everything like down to the letter that everybody should be doing, but writing complete job descriptions ensures everything is covered and you don’t have two or more people doing the same thing, so there’s no gaps, right?


Everything is covered and there’s no overlaps where you have two or more people doing the same thing. That’s what I mean by being inefficient.


Additionally, as you grow, you have more members and more athletes by nature. That’s how you grow right?


So, you need staff that knows exactly what is expected of them. You need to be able to celebrate and correct their behavior.


They need to know that they provide value and are valued. These things don’t happen with a wish and a prayer, right or not in the long term anyway, I also recommend that you are very clear about board members and seeing your volunteer roles, they too should have job descriptions, and the board and or leadership team should know what they’re aiming for, where they’re going.


So, this helps those very really uncomfortable conversations where you have board members who aren’t, aren’t necessarily volunteering to be of service, they are volunteering for their own motives.


OK, so if you lay out the expectations, the job description, so to speak then and they still sign up. Then you know it’s much easier for you to move them along because they are not delivering to expectation, they’re not delivering to what they’ve signed up to do.


Now, this is truly treating your business like the business that it is. How will you get that new field or new poll if you don’t have proper planning? How can you ensure that your books are accurate and that you’re making well-informed decisions?


If you don’t have a true picture of your finances right, your budget and your forecast to spend, and your actuals all those reports how do you, how do you know that you’re making good decisions? How can you expect to show up at a competition focused on the competition if you’re exhausted by the administration of it before you even arrive, right?


These are all commonsense things, and I feel like I’ve kind of, posed more questions than answers today, but if I could ask you one thing that, that would be for you to separate yourself from what you know to how you actually behave?


Just because you intellectually know something doesn’t mean that you practice it. So, please make the leap into the doing and behave as the business leader you are. Just take one step at a time.


Alright, thank you for listening today, and please subscribe rate and review this podcast so more can hear about how they can improve the leadership of their Sports Club.


You can also find resources on www.yoursportsresource.com and please feel free to write me at info at www.yoursportsresource.com


Thanks for spending time with me today.