Johann Kinting - Golf London
Tell us about yourself
Ever since elementary school I was drawn to teaching. I felt an intense passion for helping others to overcome barriers and to help shape their hoped-for potentials. This pull to serve others informed employment choices over the course of my life. I have enjoyed a successful career as a music teacher and advocate of the arts. After turning 50 and with two adult children now leading successful lives in the arts themselves, it was time to turn my focus on another one of my passions…Golf! After completing certifications at Fanshawe Golf Coaches School, the Canadian Golf Teacher’s Federation, and Coach Canada’s PGA/National Coaching Certification Program, I felt ready to apply my passion for teaching to my own golf instruction business.
Tell us about your business
Within my first year of working in the golf industry, I realized that the best way for me to assure delivery of my own pedagogical approach was to build my own company. Golflondon.ca was launched in the fall of 2017 with the aid and support of the Small Business Centre through their Starter Company Plus Program. I provide year-round traditional private and group golf instruction to juniors, youth, adults and seniors. We also offer SNAG (Starting New at Golf) programs and custom packages to families and their very young children, to differently abled persons and to infirmed individuals. With a commercial work truck I am able to deliver my complete golf learning experience to golf practice facilities, camps, community centres, churches, businesses and/or private residences throughout SW Ontario.
*SNAG is an entirely unique approach to learning golf by offering a huge array of colourful Velcro targets, balls and oversized plastic golf clubs specifically designed with an emphasis on access, fun and competitive enjoyment for people of all ages and abilities.
Was there something that drew (or pushed) you into being an entrepreneur?
Throughout 2016-2017 my wife and I each faced the long protracted fall-out of corporate restructuring at our places of work. Job ‘insecurity’ was a huge stressor. My full-time job was adjusted to casual part-time. During those couple of years we each spent a lot of time in conversation considering our options. She decided it best to wait out the changes at her company given the income, support, benefits and retirement package that they offered. I decided to invest my teaching background, business experience and passion for golf into starting my own teaching business.
What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
The most difficult challenge we faced during the first three years of the business was having to balance work and home life, as we dealt with serious and ongoing family health issues while launching our company.
In the first year of my golf training and attending the Starter Plus Program, my elderly Mother suffered major health issues to which she finally succumbed in 2017. Near the end of that same year one of our children broke the news to us that their marriage was ending. At the start of ’18 we undertook the necessary move into a larger house in order to accommodate the space we needed to run the company successfully. Although we found the perfect home to suit our needs, the grief of losing a parent, sadness over family marital problems, ongoing strain of job insecurity and our move all took a toll on my wife. She came down with serious health issues that lasted most of that year. Then at the start of 2019 during my third year of business our daughter – who lives in another province - experienced a serious traumatic event that required I put the business on hold for most of the 1st quarter in order to support her healing process there.
The mental-emotional strain and exhaustion that these first few years had on us was enormous. Having fallen behind by a quarter also had a bit of a domino effect that the business is still recuperating from. Somehow through all this turmoil the business survived. I kept faith, continued to work hard and remained focused on the goal as we watched my customer base grow. I went from a handful of regular students in 2018 to a roster of almost 60 students in 2019. New summer camp contracts started coming in both locally and from Middlesex County totaling close to 300 children. These contracts were due to generous referrals and tremendous support of my clients. Innovative approaches to where and how to deliver my golf instruction platforms led me to partner with other community sports providers as well as securing arrangements at Westmount Mall where once a month we offer our SNAG golf experience to families on a non-profit basis with donations going to the London Food Bank.Of course, I am now facing my next big challenge: cash flow over the fall and winter (I’m working on changing assumptions that golf is verboten during Canadian winters!)
What advice would you give to someone starting a small business today?
One - Do your best research. Investigate the market from all vantage points as this goes a long way to inviting creative planning and innovation giving you a competitive edge. Include some honest soul searching too. Is your whole heart in this? Are you and your family willing to give up all disposable income if necessary and perhaps even go a little hungry during a crisis? There’s no way to sugar coat it: you must maintain a dedicated, iron clad work ethic whether you are a morning person or a night person and then figure out a schedule that you and your loved ones can live with.
Two - Do not stray from your objective and avoid the distraction of a plan ‘B’ if at all possible. If you do need to supplement your income during the formative years it’s worth the effort to find p/t or short term contractual employment. Save as much of your creative mind, time and physical endurance for your business as possible! Otherwise, you may eventually slip into resentment and despair which sabotages those critical response times that lead to business success.
Three - You must treat your business with an attitude of respect, sacrifice and gratitude. Each hour at your office desk or out working in the field is a privilege. You’ll soon realize that the joy of the process can be just as cool as making the sale.
Lastly, take time off. Not just physically but mentally too. You’ll stay fresh and your family will really appreciate it ~
What do you see in the future for your business?
This fall I have partnered with our daughter (she’s recovered almost fully) in launching a line of humorous golf themed Greeting Cards that will be available in November! I have also invested in a second swing cage and additional Velcro golf equipment to accommodate double bookings that came up this summer. To meet the labour demand I hired additional help and a student volunteer. By observing how large multi-sport camps function with counsellors and trainees I gained the confidence to slowly expand the business beyond the original scope. My gradual intention is to build the capacity to deliver our programs to camps, community organizations and golf practise facilities throughout SW Ontario. Eventually golflondon.ca will have a fleet of identically branded trucks, likeminded and well trained coaches, support staff and a reputation that reflects the passion and goal that started all this in the first place…that golflondon.ca helps our clients “overcome barriers and help to shape their hoped-for potentials.”