Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Keith Mabbutt, Founder of Street Soccer Foundation, located in Kent, UK.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Street Soccer Foundation is a nationally acclaimed football-led charity using football as a force for good, helping to support, educate and inspire vulnerable young adults and children nationwide across England. Our flagship programme, the Street Soccer Academy, is the UK's No.1 football-led project tackling youth homelessness.

Providing a personal development course with a focus on mindset coaching, the programme works in partnership with several Premier League football clubs on the community side, supporting 18-30-year-olds up and down the country.

Tell us about yourself

I formed the Street Soccer Foundation in the summer of 2015 after stumbling across a radio interview. I listened to the CEO of a large national homeless charity and was both struck and saddened by the statistics surrounding young homeless individuals.

Literally, on the back of hearing the damning statistics, I set about forming the idea of the Street Soccer Foundation, which I immediately understood, would look to use football as a sport to attract and engage vulnerable young people before plugging those we attracted into a personal development programme.

After the very first person I saw our programme help, I will never forget what that young man said to me - and it was that which motivated me to invest full-time into the Foundation, to see it help as many other people as we could. Each day, I'm both motivated and inspired by those who give the programme a chance and by the positive impact we achieve. Changing Lives through Football...

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In commercial terms, I am fortunate to have previously exited a business I formed a number of years ago, selling to Britain's largest newspaper group. In gratitude terms, it has to be the Foundation. It has become a vehicle of support, hope, education, motivation, and inspiration for literally hundreds of people from all over the world.

To have witnessed numerous lives being turned around for the better... I am extremely privileged. Every life matters... and what we do together with our valued partners positively affects and impacts communities and people from all over. It is a true blessing.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

When to switch off. It's very difficult. When you're the owner, you're 'all in.' You can easily burn the candle at both ends and lose sight of important priorities, i.e., family, friends, and so on. But in particular, when your business is your passion, it can quite easily take over, and suddenly you can be chewing through 6-7 days a week and long hours...

It's something I am conscious of and continue to work on. But the challenge now is the fact that the organization I run is formed to support others, so it gives you that added impetus to push even harder for the benefit of others.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

In no particular order:

  1. Get experience in your chosen field - ideally through working for someone else (preferably paid) to 'learn the ropes. This way, you can start to save some money for your entrepreneurial plan whilst building contacts and gaining knowledge in the field you wish to move into.
  2. Network. Get talking and find the people who are already working in your intended space. What are they doing? How? Can they help you? More importantly, can you help them?
  3. If you choose to go beyond a sole-trader start-up, then choose your team wisely. You get to choose who works with you, but my advice would be to hire on both capability and attitude. The right attitude to suit you and your business can work wonders. If you can hire on attitude, and the person also has the skill-set you desire, you're on to a winner.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you truly believe you have something to form and start a new business, DO IT. Give it a go. And ideally, if you can do such as a passion of yours, then it won't even be classed as 'work.' You'll be driving a passion of yours, so in fact, you won't really be working... You'll be doing what you love each and every day. And remember most people 'think' of setting up - but never take the leap.

By doing so, you're already in the minority - so again, if it doesn't quite work out, don't be put off! Learn from the experience, and if you can determine what didn't quite work or what the wrong turn you took - at least then, own it and learn from it - and go again! Running your own business is one of the best things in the world. But don't be afraid to fail or ask for help along the way. You'll be surprised... Good luck!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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