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GAME: Turning fun and games into a business

'The workshop reinforced what I was doing and gave me the confidence to continue. Everyone thinks they know marketing but now I can put it on paper, work out what it costs me and see how it is paying off.'
- Kim Amor, Gymsports Academy of Movement and Excellence

Top tips

  • attend small business workshops and seminars
  • develop a costed marketing plan
  • review the marketing plan pay off in attracting and retaining clients

The Business

A chance meeting with a financial planner convinced Kim Amor to take the risk and set up her own children’s gymnastics school in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs.

Kim has been around gymnastics clubs for as long as she can remember and while working for some of the city’s elite gymnastic schools during and after her university studies she tackled a business plan of her own.

“I thought I would need $2 million but then I met a planner who helped me see I could develop my own business for just a couple of hundred thousand.”

The key was to promote her children’s gymnastics program as fun, as a game. So Kim developed a business name to fit a suitable acronym and registered the Gymsports Academy of Movement and Excellence.

GAME opened for business at the beginning of 2012, and now holds classes for 220 children a week in a rented facility in Epping.

The Challenge

Despite her background in gymnastics, Kim thought her degree in recreation leadership would take her career in a different direction. However, four years work as a program director for a boys’ summer camp in the US convinced Kim she should work with children in health and exercise.

“I spent nine months planning the business before we opened the doors and now we’ve been operating for nearly three years. The biggest challenge in the first place was marketing the business and getting people to know about us.”

Now the challenge is to keep her students, knowing that with so much organised activity on offer, many children swap around classes on a term-by-term basis.

“One of my biggest competitors is swimming, because parents understandably want their children to be safe in water. But I believe that understanding how their bodies move on the ground and spatial awareness is just as important.”

The Assistance

Kim has attended many small business courses and women-in-business seminars run by the City of Whittlesea, including the Small Business Victoria Marketing for Growth workshop.

“The workshop reinforced what I was doing and gave me the confidence to continue. Everyone thinks they know marketing but now I can put it on paper, work out what it costs me and see how it is paying off.”

Her marketing involves notices in local school newsletters, a busy Facebook page, circulation of business cards and mailbox drops of the promotional fliers she changes regularly. She also relies on word of mouth from her existing students and their families.

But the impact is not instant. By monitoring the result of her marketing initiatives, Kim realised the return from activity such as a letter-box drop takes several months.

Business Today / The Future

Gymsports Academy of Movement and Excellence experienced a 30 per cent growth in the third term of 2014, bringing new responsibilities for Kim. She has hired additional staff, the supervision and training of whom has increased her personal workload. But she knows this is a good problem to have.

“My 10-year goal is to be running a multi-sport facility with gymnastics for everybody, including baby gym classes. And I want to be doing it in my own building, not somewhere I have to hire. That’s just putting money in someone else’s pocket.”

The result

Kim Amor opened the Gymsports Academy of Movement and Excellence almost three years ago. She had a background in gymnastics but needed to attract the support of local families. Kim attended the Marketing for Growth workshop to develop a plan that would bring children to her and keep them coming back.