Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Interview With Kent Ridley

Photo credit ThomasofNorway
Have you ever wondered if you should take your unique talent on the road and actually go into business for yourself? Just the thought of what could go wrong scares some people to stay in their cubicles. Others embrace the thought and embark on a journey to becoming an entrepreneur. Kent Ridley is one who did just that. I caught up with him recently and asked him to share with us how he got started as an entrepreneur, and continues to be successful today.

Q 1. What is your top talent?

Kent: I believe that my top skill is being able to evaluate student athletes in an efficient manner. We are the only scouting service in Canada that reaches from coast to coast and that drastically increases the number of individuals that are in need of review prior to releasing a list to college coaches.

Q 2. How much of your talent is learned or innate?

Kent: There is a good portion of it that is natural over learned. I was raised in a family that appreciated athletics, so from an early age I was watching football, hockey, and baseball for more than just entertainment. When I was older and got involved in coaching myself, the learned portion came into play. Now I’ve read more books on how to coach, train, and teach than on sports themselves. There are some great sports mentors out there that you can learn from even if you never meet them in person, and there are some great sports people that are willing to take a moment of their time to chat, even though they really don’t have to in their position.

Q3. What key factors made you decide to turn this talent into a business?

Kent: I was coaching basketball in Airdrie, Alberta in a volunteer role and was contacted by my old college in regards to checking out a couple of potential players for them. After doing that for a couple of years, the college cancelled their athletic program. By that time I was enjoying scouting so much that I felt I could help more players with a few tweaks to the business plan. From there it became a potential business that would fit into my hectic life.

This fall will be 9 years since I took the first phone call from my college about a pair of basketball players that would never suit up for them, while I’m far from rich, so much groundwork has been done that our business is exploding.

Q4. Were you ever afraid of starting your business, or was there a point you almost changed your mind/quit/or gave up?

The “give up” thought shows up every few months of course. When you see money going out and not nearly enough coming back in, it can be really defeating. When you realize that you’re working more hours than you ever did back when you had a 9 to 5 job it can be really frustrating. When you notice that other businesses that aren’t as well run as yours are making more money than you – those are the moments when you just want to scream!

But then you think about all those suckers out there that are getting in their cars at 7am, to drive to a job and report to a boss that can’t figure out how to work their Blackberry, but is put in charge because of a piece of paper in a $2 Wal-Mart frame on the wall – and you remember it’s all worthwhile. The key to owning your own business is that you’re working at something that you WANT to be working at. Do not be afraid of being happy!

Q5. What attitude or outlook on your life and business has lead to your success, or what is the key ingredient to your success?

“Go big or go home is a motto in our house.” I’m thinking of painting it on our garage wall like a primitive cave drawing!  My wife is a country singer and living in Nashville, Tennessee where your lunch is cooked by an amazing guitar player and brought to your table by a fantastic singer. You can’t be timid about your area of expertise. Trust yourself that you do know your field and that your information or product is worth putting out there. Even if you start a business as a side project or as a hobby you have to believe in it and believe that it has a worth. You have value to the rest of the planet, you just need to find what it is that gives you that value, and who out there needs to experience it. Win the day!

Kent Ridley runs a Canadian organization called Ridley Scouting at http://www.RidleyScouting.com. His company is devoted to helping high school student athletes on their road to post secondary athletics. Ridley Scouting was the first scouting service in Canada to reach from BC to the Maritimes. You can connect with Kent through his website or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/RidleyScouting.