RUNNING LEADS TO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS FOR COACH O

Charles Oliver decided early in life that he wanted to own his own business, but it took several years before he was able to realize his goal. A renowned track and field athlete, he began his work career as a high school track coach. Almost immediately he realized there is more to being a coach than teaching technique and physical training. This was really impressed upon him when setting up track events and competitions. Painting lane lines, contacting and registering prospective schools and athletes, setting schedules, finding and providing necessary equipment, securing officials, coordinating marketing and promotions, and similar "behind the scenes" activities took an inordinate amount of time. While attending many of these track events, he recognized these tasks were not being performed as efficiently as they could be and he knew they could be done better by an outside person or agency. He decided he had the contacts and background to be that agency so he formed "Coach O" and began providing services to organize, register, and promote events, as well as securing certified officials for the meets. Coach O not only provided a needed service, it allowed him to achieve his dream of owning his own business.

Initially, Coach O's mission was simply to make the track and field activity a better and more professional experience for all concerned - athletes, coaches, fans, and officials. "At first I wasn't really trying to make money" says Mr. Oliver. "After all I already was employed full time. Coach O was simply a way to give back to the activity that had done so much for me and it allowed me to own and manage my own business."

Soon Mr. Oliver realized that apparel for track and field was another area of the activity that offered potential, so he added several lines of clothing to his offerings. About this time, several colleagues questioned him about the business, and pointed out that there was a great financial potential for the services he was providing. Mr. Oliver began considering this and realized they were right. Now he would be able to give back to the activity, provide needed services, and make a profit doing so!

Bags by Coach O was started in Sept 1989 and Coach O Registration in the winter of 2000. About 2005 business began booming with the growth of on-line registration and the addition of track equipment and team apparel to his inventory. In fact, it was growing so much that he realized he needed help in determining direction and how to cope with the administrative tasks. That's when he contacted Greater Knoxville SCORE and began working with Chuck Christiansen, one of the counselors. Over a period of time they looked at operations and decided Coach O needed to hire employees to handle tasks such as payroll, invoicing, and event reconciliation. Mr. Christiansen also advised Mr. Oliver on legal matters such as business structure and trademarks. Recently, Coach O hired several sales associates to cover selected areas of the United States, and Mr. Christiansen offered advice on hiring, commission, and policy.

Mr. Oliver has relied on word-of-mouth and testimonials built through his track and field background and the vast network he has established over the years to market Coach O. But with the growth and recent product additions such as a co-marketing agreement with a well-known equipment firm, he sees the possible need for a full time marketing position.

With Mr. Oliver's expertise and networking, Coach O has continued to grow. In 2008 Coach O Registration handled On-Line Registration for more than 500 track and field events, including the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Track and Field Junior Olympics in Detroit in August 2008 with 10,000 young athletes. Mr. Oliver expects the number of on-line registration events to grow to between 600 and 700 in 2009. Coach O Registration is the official On-Line Registration provider for AAU Athletics (District meets, National Qualifier meets and the AAU Junior Olympic Games) and Charles Oliver serves as the Meet Director for the Junior Olympic Games.

Many people begin a hobby or avocation and later want to transform it into a full-time successful business. SCORE can help these individuals make that transition, as Coach O has done

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