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chris-grant

A huge range of businesses choose Easyspace to help them get online – from sole traders, to family businesses to companies with hundreds of employees. Having a website brings many benefits to a business, as Easyspace customer Chris Grant found out. Chris set up a website with Easyspace in 2006 and his business Glasgow Parkour Coaching has since grown into one of Scotland’s top parkour coaching organisations. Before reading our blog interview with Chris, please take a look at the short video we made with him:

 

Q1. Chris, tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to starting Glasgow Parkour Coaching.

I’ve been a parkour practitioner for over 9 years and had started GlasgowParkour.co.uk 8 years ago as a hub for Parkour practitioners in Glasgow. The site and forums quickly became the main way that meet ups and parkour ‘jams’ were organised, so initially I was put in a sort of position of responsibility for Parkour in my city (slightly unwillingly at first!)

By late 2007 the Glasgow Parkour group had been approached by a couple of community groups to deliver intro sessions, and then we were approached by National Theatre of Scotland to be involved in a large scale community project in Port Glasgow. They had seen that Parkour was a powerful engagement tool for young people and also that it carried an interesting aesthetic which could transfer well to physical theatre.

I decided to take on the project, and used it as a launch pad for Glasgow Parkour Coaching’s classes, which launched the day the project finished in March 2008

 

Q2. How difficult was it growing the business, getting customers, promoting parkour, etc?

The growth has actually been quite organic and we found that with every good project came another opportunity – I think we were very fortunate to work within a large arts organisation at first which gave us substantial press coverage and added some strong credibility to Parkour at a stage when it was unknown or misunderstood.

I’ve always tried to portray a very professional and organised image for the company which I think has helped a lot.

Parkour was finding it’s way into the limelight through film and TV and fortunately most of the media coverage has played in our favour – even the stylised or misconceived articles led people to Glasgow Parkour Coaching (GPC), and we had a platform to communicate what Parkour was really about through the website and our classes.

 

Q3. How did you market your business and website GlasgowParkour.co.uk when you first started and how do you promote it now?

Initially we put the website out across the existing network of Parkour websites and tried to bump it up on search engine rankings. We also made sure to direct anyone interested in Parkour straight to the site as we knew the information there was clear and easy. Again we were fortunate to be asked to do some press/ photoshoots with Parkour and made sure that we talked about the website at any opportunity!

Now, we push the site massively through our social networking channels and it remains the hub of information for our business and for Parkour in Glasgow. Having business cards for all the coaches with just the logo and the site address really helps too – there’s so much info there that you can’t get into a quick conversation but people seem pretty happy to check out the site.

We are now trying to make sure other members of the community also have a voice on the site so that the business doesn’t end up feeling removed from the community itself. We’ve launched a ‘meet the students’ feature and I have some other things in pipeline…

glasgow-parkour-website

Q4. You have your domain name GlasgowParkour.co.uk and your web hosting with Easyspace. Why did you decide to choose Easyspace?

I first bought glasgowparkour.co.uk on Easyspace it because it was really good value for money. Since then I’ve hosted a number of sites with Easyspace, including glasgowparkourcoaching.com because the hosting’s consistent and quick, the control panel is very user friendly and when I’ve had any queries they have been answered quickly.

The email services are also great – I have a number of domain and email only accounts with Easyspace purely because the email is good value for money and reliable.

 

Q5. One of the other websites you have with Easyspace is www.rootsofmovement.org. Tell us about this site, and why you chose a .org domain over a .co.uk or a .com

Roots of Movement is Scotland’s National Parkour committee which I founded with the community leaders from around Scotland. We support local Parkour communities with advice, help with funding and coaching advice to try and create a base standard of teaching and knowledge around the whole of Scotland. As an example of what we do – we recently received a large Awards for All grant to qualify 20 coaches from around Scotland.

The website serves as a base for us to relay information to these communities, advertise our meetings and events and provide a support network for new and existing Parkour groups. It also allows us to present everything that we do in one place, as there’s a lot going on!

I chose the .org domain as I feel it gives off the impression of a large organisation, like a body or local authority, which is more in line with what Roots of Movement is. It’s a committee created for the community, who tries to represent Parkour in Scotland as a whole.

 

Q6. Do you do the web design and updating of your websites yourself? How easy do you find that?

I do all of the web design, the old school way, with HTML in notepad. I did some web design during my time at university and this got me started – I really enjoy working in HTML and each site update presents some new challenges for me to figure out.

Updating the websites through FTP on the Easyspace control panel is great – I can do it from anywhere really as long as I have internet access which is really useful.

 

parkour-youtube

Q7. You have a YouTube channel which has lots of great videos, which you also embed into your website. Tell us how & why you create your videos and how they help promote your business.

Making videos is quite a large part of Parkour ‘culture’ which means most of my team have some experience video editing so putting the films together is usually fairly quick.

Unfortunately there are literally millions of Parkour videos out there and a lot of them are very contrived and repetitive, usually focused on the ‘biggest tricks’ which I don’t really feel represents much of what Parkour actually involves.

With GPC’s videos I wanted to capture the essence of the classes and the personalities of my coaches. GPC is focused on communicating the heart and the spirit of Parkour, so it made sense to me to make films that focused on the people and how it has changed them, not just the moves.

This means that they really show what the business does – it helps and improves people. New practitioners can get a practical idea of what Parkour is from the films while also hopefully being a little charmed and intrigued by the people involved.

 

Q8. You also use Facebook, Twitter, etc, to promote your website? How successful has it been for you? Any advice on how businesses can use social media to promote themselves?

Social networking has been massively important to us, more and moreso – particularly as an initial engagement tool and to take people to the site. Because Parkour is so visual, the social networking channels give us the chance to present a photo from a class or a video as the initial point of contact which definitely hooks people in.

It’s also much more interactive and personal than just coming across the site through a search engine – you can see how the students have been involved and communicate with us.

Advice for anyone using social networking?

Write a plan of what your updates will be every week, put someone in charge of it, and stick to it.

In August last year we put one person in charge of driving the social networking in a much more structured and regular way, with the target to always include a weblink, and we saw our hits on glasgowparkourcoaching.com jump from around 30,000 to 50,000 in just one month!

Also keep an eye on the Stats – the Facebook Insights feature is particularly useful. You can figure out the best time to post, which days of the week are more popular and the type of content that gets the most response.

 

Q9. What mistakes have you made in your business, and what would you have done differently?

I have a strong team of people around me who are willing to put in the hours, and I think I should have trusted them all a bit earlier. I definitely held onto the business and tried to do all the work, at a stage when it was growing quickly. This slowed it down – I missed out on a few jobs because I was too slow to respond. I was trying to make sure that I answered every single email, taught every single class and managed every single conversation.

Once I relinquished some of this (to the right guys of course!) the business was a lot more productive, and I have a bit more thinking space.

 

Q10. What’s it like managing Glasgow Parkour Coaching? Describe your typical day.

Every day is different – some involve European teaching trips, training days around Scotland or filming, meetings and interviews. If I’m in Glasgow on an ‘average’ day it looks like this –

I get up at 8am and get a coffee and do 2-3 hours of office/admin work in Glasgow Parkour HQ which is my living room. Emails, invoicing, setting up work/meetings etc.

I then go training for a couple of hours outdoors, usually up to about lunchtime. If I’ve had responses or some tasks as a result of my morning work I would be back at my laptop for a while over lunch, then usually off to an afternoon workshop in a school, or a couple of hours off. I’d then get either some more office time or some more training in, then do a class at night till about 9pm and be home for 10pm. It seems like a long day but with my own training in there and how much I enjoy classes, not a lot of it feels like work.

That’s probably about 4-6 days a week – I try to take one day away from it all per week but it’s often just one or two days a month…..!

 

Q11. Where does that drive to be your own boss come from? Why did you decide the life of a 9-5 employee was not for you?

I’ve worked since 14, and I’ve never had a 9-5 job. I used to be a bartender while I was at University and after I took that quite seriously for a while, and that tended to be a bit different every week and didn’t really have a routine so I think it just seems to be a rhythm that works for me.

Parkour was so new when I started GPC that I was left in a position where I had to ‘write the book’ as I went along so it really just happened. I fell into this position and then seemed to have the skills or at least the determination to make it work.

I always have a project, I enjoy the excitement chasing work and the unpredictability of what’s going to happen next – I can only ever look 3 or 4 months ahead and it’s great to always be talking about the next thing and I can go as fast as I like with it without being restricted by other people’s decisions.

 

Q12. Which entrepreneur/person has inspired you the most & why?

My Mother. She has been through a number of innovative businesses over the years in media, marketing and advertising and she has always lived and breathed her work which I really respect. I could relate to that a lot when I started doing Parkour as job as it was already engulfing my life!

She understands the value of a good personality and developing relationships, taking on good people and also taking risks. She can find the humour in any situation and has that great ‘Glasgow’ directness and matter-of-fact attitude in dealing with people which I think has rubbed off on me a lot.

She has helped me a lot with ideas and contacts for GPC, and that’s been invaluable, but I think I take more inspiration from the way that she works and hearing about her job, than simply calling on for her help or advice.

 

Q13. What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting their own business?

There’s a few things I’ve learned over the years:

1) Asking questions and taking advice makes you look assertive, not clueless. You are always going to meet people who know more than you and whose knowledge is valuable to you. They have been at the beginning at some point as well, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from them. My business wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the people that I learned from and I rarely came across someone who wasn’t willing to have a helpful conversation. At the same time that doesn’t mean you need to take all the advice you get!!

2) Don’t live your business 24 hours a day. Find time every day for friends, partners or just some quiet reflection without emails or phone calls. This is something I’ve just discovered recently if I’m honest, and I’m actually finding that less time working is making me MORE productive, because when I do work I’m focused.

3) If you are good at something, never do it for free. The Joker from Batman said that! You need to understand that your time is valuable and know when to say no. Most of the people that you will deal with are being paid when you speak to them or email them, and you probably aren’t.

You’re answering your phone whenever it rings and emailing at 11 at night, and they are only working when they are paid to, so value your time. Don’t be afraid to bring up money matters from the first conversation and make sure people know that your time is valuable. When you start your business it’s likely that most of the people you work for get more from you than you get from them, so watch out for that and choose your opportunities carefully.

It’s a very strange and liberating experience this first time you turn down business but it’s important.

 

Q14. What are your future plans for Glasgow Parkour Coaching?

I’d like to leave the core classes to be taught by my team so that I can focus on driving the business and work on some specific projects – I’m also getting more and more opportunities to work outside of Glasgow and I want to be in a position to take them. In the last 18 months I’ve been in Shetland for 6 months, France, London and Sweden and the trips are always amazing.

I want to drive the promotion of the core classes, particularly the adult community, as I feel it’s just not reached it’s potential yet. I’ve seen how much Parkour can shape people’s fitness and wellbeing, and I think we need to get that message out there more.

I’m working on a couple of projects for this year and next, including a Commonwealth Youth Circus which will perform alongside the Queen’s Baton Relay, and a UK-Wide project related to natural terrain that I have conceived and am raising money for at the moment.

 

Thanks Chris, from everyone at Easyspace

If you want to find out more about Chris Grant and parkour coaching then you can visit his websites which he has with Easyspace:

www.GlasgowParkour.co.uk

www.RootsOfMovement.org

 

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