Names of Recipients:
Mrs. Jennifer Stimpson
Mr. Graham Stimpson
In any published text about becoming an entrepreneur, you’ll find a list of ‘Keys to Success”. Standard among them are, persistence, strong work ethic, determination, a coherent business and marketing plan, ready access to funding, solid financial management and belief in your product.
Also on the list will be ‘Passion’ and ‘Service and Care for both your Customers and Employees’. While the others are important, it is these last two that Jennifer and Graham Stimpson feel are essential to a business like theirs that, primarily, exists to serve the needs of children. As Jennifer says, “To us, children are our top priority and every day is a joy to work, not drudgery.”
Jennifer and Graham are the founders of GIM Sports, which provides both recreational and competitive gymnastics classes for children between the ages of 2 and 16. Starting from scratch in 2005, the Company operates from a fully equipped centre in the Grandstand at Turf City. Excluding the several child-care centres, schools and other sporting clubs that it counts as clients, it has over 300 children attending its programmes.
As Jennifer said, “With each passing day, through word of mouth, the Company has built a reputation for quality, service and, most important, care and concern for the welfare of the children”. This led to a steady increase in membership as well as experienced coaches seeking to join the Company. Once parents saw what the club could offer, they urged the owners to introduce adult classes for them and these began a couple of years ago.
More recently, again initiated by requests from few parents, the Company started a series of programmes dedicated to children with special needs. These came to the attention of the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore. As a result, GIM Sports was asked to design a suite of programmes tailored, exclusively, to the needs of the Association’s members and these have now been implemented.
Although, throughout their previous careers, Jennifer and Graham had proven success in running regional businesses for multinational employers, neither had any prior expertise in gymnastics or experience of working with children. For them, the driver to set up their Company went back to the birth of their son, Alastair. This stimulated a desire in both of them to seriously think about ‘switching gears’ and venturing into a business that focused on the development and welfare of children. That day arrived when Graham retired and Alastair was old enough to go to School, leaving Jennifer free to get back into the commercial world.
In dividing up responsibilities, Jennifer is the ‘front person’ dealing with the parents and children, whereas Graham tends to be more ‘back-room’ focusing on the financial and business management. However, both of them see a major key to their success has been their ability to recruit qualified and caring people into the organization. As Jennifer remarks, “Without them, it is like operating without your limbs”.
Jennifer gives special mention to their Head coach, Jon Gutierrez and Director of Operations, Hameiza Chia. Both have considerable expertise and reflect the cornerstone culture which is to ‘put the children first’. As Jennifer says, “Jon has done a sterling job in developing our programmes and training our coaches, all of whom are of the highest standard. Hameiza, with her previous experience of operating child care centres, not only brings solid business management skills, but also a clear understanding and empathy with both the parents and children. We are lucky to have them in the team”.
Bearing testimony to the Company’s burgeoning reputation, one of its clients, Peng Ean, who, as well as her children, attend classes, is full of praise for the organization. “The impression I have for this Company is ‘Gymnastics with a Heart’. The coaches are very attentive and really know their business. As well as quality programmes, the administrative side of the business is extremely efficient being very nice, friendly and resourceful. Everyone is very supportive in the work place. The overall sense is a ‘homely feel’ to the environment that they provide for its members.”
Sharing some of her memories, Jennifer said, “Undoubtedly, there are a lot of proud and satisfying moments. These range from watching our recreational classes where the children are happily enjoying their time at the Centre, to seeing the success of our competitive gymnasts in the various competitions they enter. These are the best moments one can ever experience. The name GIM Sports means ‘Gymnastics In Motion’. It was selected by the kids themselves through a naming competition we organised a few years ago and, to that extent, you could say they have an ownership in the business.”
To the owners, GIM Sports has special meaning in that it offers them, the opportunity to help towards the development of children who, at the end of the day, are the most cherished and important members of any family. When compared to their previous careers, they experience a greater level of pride, satisfaction, and achievement from what they do. To them, being involved with children fills them with the sense that they are making a ‘truly worthwhile contribution to society’.
Entrepreneurship is using your ability to do something you like. To state the obvious, do the best you can and do things that you will be happy with. To encourage young people to venture into business with their eyes wide open, Graham has the following words of advice.
“Go for it if you are not afraid of hard work and can handle, in the full sense of the phrase, the notion of ‘No work, no Pay”. Make sure you have ready access to funding and pay special attention to the finances and risk management. Remember, the vast majority of businesses, big and small, fail because of a lack of available funds combined with poor financial control. View setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures (the glass is ‘half-full and not half-empty’ syndrome). Everybody makes mistakes so expect them to happen. The trick is to ensure the damage is contained. A distinguishing skill of any successful entrepreneurs is their ability to dig themselves out of a ‘hole’ they fall into, regardless of who made it. To be successful, you need to be resilient, confident and a self-starter. Always maintain an open-mind to advice and criticism and never be reluctant to seek the guidance of others. Finally, and above all, put a high priority on the care and attention you give to your customers and your employees”.
#04-03, The Grandstand (Turf City) 200 Turf Club Road
T| 6468 1103
F| 6468 4813