For this month’s feature, we spoke with one of our very own board members, Mandy Cronin! She runs an all-female focused youth sports coaching business where she helps girl to improve learning and development skills through playing hockey.
Can you tell us a little about your career background and how it contributed to founding your business?
I’ve always loved working with and coaching children and young adults. That passion developed while I was in high school and college through my summer work experience and my amazing boarding school experience. During my high school and college summers, I worked at a sports camp called Sports P.L.U.S., which stood for Positive Learning Using Sports. We used sports as a vehicle to educate youngsters on the learning opportunities that sports provide. We talked to them about morals and values like respect, responsibility, fair play, teamwork, and perseverance. I watched these kids from all different walks of life improve their perspectives, choices and attitudes right in front of my eyes during the few weeks of camp. So I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved with youth and young adult sports and self-improvement programming. And I realized after college that I was blessed with the ability to be able to start a business where I could do just that and be my own boss. And what makes us so unique is that we are primarily an all-female-staffed and female-focused business. I do have some male clientele that I work with, but for the most part we run all female lessons and camps.
What’s the name of your company and how did you come up with it?
M-Power Hockey. I loved the idea of having a play on the word “empower,” as that’s what I believe we do with every student athlete we get the pleasure of working with. My wife and I started the business together 15+ years ago and we are both named Amanda and go by “Mandy.” So the “M” was a nod to our names.
What does “a day in the life” look like for you?
Pre-COVID, during the hockey season from late August through April, we (me and my staff) would be out on the ice every night of the week working with athletes at team practices, clinics and private lessons. And then during the spring and summer, we would run pre-tryout development sessions, private lessons and summer camps. We run camps during the summer for basically every age group and skill level from beginner to professional, and again all female. Add to that, the last two seasons I was also a general manager in the National Women’s Hockey League, and also managing all of my behind-the-scenes administration for the business, while being a mother of two kids under four. Let’s just say, I’m never bored!
How did you build your customer base? Do you market your business on your own?
Thankfully, because I am in a niche market and industry, my business grew quickly almost completely via word-of-mouth and my personal network. Playing professionally and being involved with grassroots hockey all over Toronto also helped spread the word about our girls-specific hockey school.
What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
The most challenging part for me as a new entrepreneur was learning on the go all of the intricacies of running every single facet of a business. And there are so many rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur. But the best is the relationships I have made with my clients’ families.
How have you overcome any failures or setbacks?
We all get better by learning from our failures and mistakes. It’s about evaluating and regrouping so you can improve for future endeavors. And it is crucial to surround yourself with people who can balance out your strengths and weaknesses.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Unfortunately, due to hockey arenas and training facilities being shut down in Ontario, that also meant that we have not been able to get on the ice with our students. We are hopeful that we will be on the ice with them again soon.
What are some plans for growing your business?
My wife says I always have a thousand business ideas in my head! But really, I just want to offer my students the most well-rounded training and development opportunities, so that they will never look back with any regrets. And so that they will know that they were exposed to everything that could give them an edge in achieving their goals.
What advice do you have for a young woman looking to start her own business?
Educate yourself on everything about running a business before jumping in head first. If your’e going into college or university, take business and connaissance literacy courses. Don’t focus just on the product or service, but think about who will manage the finances, the day-to-day administration, the social media, marketing and customer service. Trying to wear all of those hats might work at the start, but it will wear you down. Again, find good people with skills that compliment yours. You will reach your goals sooner, and ensure the success of your venture.
How can our readers get in touch with you or access your services?
Our website is m-powerhockey.com and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @mpowerhockey