Interview with Ian Stafford, Founder Sporting Club
After 25 years as a sportswriter, covering every major sporting event in the world, Ian Stafford decided to take a step in a new direction, creating The Sporting Club, an international private networking club for those in the sporting industries, and those who love sport. The Sporting Club looks to buck the elitist, outdated tradition of private members clubs, and redefine it for the modern world.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I always wanted to do something more. I admired how certain well-known individuals had moved from one industry to another, while seemingly staying at the top of their game. I wanted a new set of challenges using my skill-set and the experience I’d garnered through 25 years working in a multi-faceted media career, which was all about sales and marketing, PR, people and forging good business relationships. I realised I am not happy working for other people, but pretty good at working for myself and alongside other people.
Was there a major event in your life that lead to this decision?
I think it’s been harboured for many years, but ultimately, it was the combination of having been there and done it for so long, plus the evolution of today’s media, the slow death of newspapers, the digital revolution and the demand for instant news across so many different platforms including social media. This resulted in less fun, less travel, and less relationship-building.
What did you do before?
I had a very busy, multi-stranded career that embraced all arms of the media, from journalism to broadcasting to writing books to hosting events to website and social media site launching. Most people in sport and/or the media have come across me over the years!
What does your business/organisation do?
The Sporting Club is a private networking club with permanent homes. We want to get away from the elitist perception of private members clubs, so we don’t refer to it as a private members club. We have permanent “homes” in Mayfair, Soho and the City of London, as well as in Manchester Wilmslow in Cheshire.
We also have expansion plans in Dublin, Dubai, New York and various other global venues that are looking to take up our franchise opportunities. We stage high profile, bespoke events featuring major sporting names for our members and their clients, creating a proactive networking mechanism for our members.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The world is changing, we live in a more diverse society, where 28-year-old CEOs of tech companies do not see being a member of an expensive, elitist club as a badge of honour or a status symbol anymore. I thought a more down-to-earth club for successful people who just love sport would be the way to go forward, and so it has proved to be.
What is the best thing about your job?
Seeing members getting to know each other and forging meaningful business relationships, seeing how much our guest stars enjoy our events, and watching the business grow from nothing to where it is now.
And the most challenging?
Self-funding from day one until now (we now have major investors), dealing with the quirkiness of people, and finding the best staff, those who have the welfare of the business at heart.I’m happy to say we now have this.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business so far?
Being in profit after 15 months, playing a big part in brokering some very major business deals for our members, staging our Sugar Ray Leonard gala dinner, perhaps the biggest name and biggest event so far. Also creating business opportunities for worldwide members through our networking system.
I will throw in one for the near future too, we are staging our inaugural Sporting Club Sports Awards Gala Dinner on November 28th at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. 500 people, 10 major awards presented by A-Listers, with major acts entertaining. I am very excited about that!
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone starting their own business?
Listen to everyone, but back your own judgement and remember the skill-set that got you to where you are. And don’t spend money you don’t have!
How do you define success?
Contentment! How that is measured and defined differs depending on who you are. A handyman I used didn’t earn much, but he was the happiest, most relaxed, most content man I’ve ever met. I envied him for it.
Contentment for me is never really achievable, because I am so driven to push for excellence in whatever I do. But, if The Sporting Club continues in the fashion it has to date, and we have 20 global clubs and an extensive network, with amazing events and more, then I will be pretty happy!
About Ian Stafford
Ian graduated with a degree in History before going into sports writing. He won 12 national awards as a sports-writer.
As a journalist Ian has worked for The Times, Daily and Sunday Express, The Independent and The Scotsman and The Mail on Sunday, where he was Chief Sports Reporter, covering every major sporting event over the past 25 years. He has been voted Sports Reporter of the Year, twice Magazine Sports Writer of the Year, twice highly commended as Sports Interviewer of the Year and twice highly commended as Magazine Sports Writer of the Year and, in 2009, was highly commended as Sports Writer of the Year in the BPA Awards.
A presenter, reporter, and writer, Ian authored 16 books, including three best-sellers, and was a regular presenter on television and radio.
Ian now runs The Sporting Club
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Will the @englandcricket one day team become The Sporting Club’s Team of the Year at our Sports Awards Gala Dinner on November 28th at the @royallancasterlondon in London after winning the Cricket World Cup yesterday? Got to have a big chance now: http://bit.ly/2LtosuH #Linkinbio . . . . . . #TheSportingClub #LondonSportingClub #London #Manchester #ManchesterSportingClub #Ireland #Dublin #DublinSportingClub #membership #club #sports #food #sport #athlete #networking #network #networker #content #business #businessowners #motivation #inspiration #entrepreneurslife #EnglandCricket #Cricket #sportsman #Sportswomen #sportsnews
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