Matthew scores his dream life

Matthew Burns became a Sports Xtra franchise owner in 2010, which enabled him to get out from behind the desk and make money while enjoying a more active lifestyle

Matthew Burns had often contemplated escaping from the daily grind of working as a chartered accountant in the City of London and becoming his own boss.

“After eight years of staring at spreadsheets, I decided that career was not for me,” he recalls. “I had been wanting to set up my own business and discovered that by investing in a franchise, you don’t have to spend two to three years establishing the brand and framework as they are already in place.”

It was while he was researching franchise opportunities that Matthew found out about Sports Xtra. “It really stood out for me because when I was at university during the holidays I had gone to the USA to coach football,” he enthuses. “I loved that experience and being outdoors, and realised with Sports Xtra I could combine all these things.”

Matthew contacted the company’s head office to arrange a meeting with its founder Gareth Lippiatt. “As this was going to be a big career changing decision, I wanted to be really sure,” explains Matthew.

“When I met Gareth, I knew I was making the right choice as I was highly impressed by his plans for the business’ future and knowledge of the industry.”

Sports Xtra was founded in 2002 and provides a high quality, extracurricular sports provision for children in a safe and structured environment.

“I was lucky with my territory as there was already a bit of a framework and two Sports Xtra coaches working at schools in my area,” says Matthew. “It has still been hard work and you do have a completely different approach than when you are an employee – you think about work all the time and never switch off!

“However, one of the reasons I chose to be my own boss was that I wanted that responsibility, I liked the idea of the buck stopping with me – it spurs me on. Also, as your own boss, you have the potential for higher earnings than if you are employee – what you put in is what you get out.”

Matthew explains that his West Hertfordshire territory, which includes 180 primary schools, gives him lots of opportunities for generating new business.

Sports Xtra differentiates itself from its competitors by offering non-traditional sports that encourage a fun, rather than competitive, culture.

Franchise owners and schools benefit from a facility on the Sports Xtra website which allows parents to pay online, thereby freeing up time which would have been spent looking after accounts and admin.

“My average day consists of attracting new business from schools, maintaining the relationships I have with the ones who are already using Sports Xtra and organising my coaches,” says Matthew. “I am very happy with the team I’ve got – I have some really good guys and whenever I need to recruit more staff, head office or other franchise owners are only too pleased to help.”

For the immediate future, Matthew intends to keep expanding his territory and eventually recruit a head coach so he can concentrate on generating more new business.

“I have had the odd bad day but I have no regrets about becoming a Sports Xtra franchise owner as I really enjoy what I do,” beams Matthew. “The key is to be very organised and remain positive and enthusiastic and it helps to be a bit sporty, just in case you have to step in an hold a session yourself.”

Written by Fraser McKay