83: Turning a passion into a successful career, with Matt Porter of Sportive HQ
My guest this month is entrepreneur Matt Porter, founder of Sportive HQ. Matt talks about his route to career success, which in many ways sounds as gruelling as the cycle racing he organises! I was inspired by his optimism, flexibility and pure grit and I think you will be too.
Sportive HQ specialises in creating and directing sportives (that’s a non-competitive, long-distance cycling event for those unfamiliar) for cyclists of all abilities. Cycling has been a serious interest for Matt for many years so starting a business so close to his heart was a big driving factor. The good news is he still likes cycling - making a career from his hobby hasn’t put him off!
Matt’s Career Track
Matt spent 10 years in account management for a car leasing company until the company went into administration and changes across the industry meant jobs like his were being phased out. One thing he took away from that position was a realisation that he enjoyed and had a talent for working with people face-to-face. But with his first child on the way, the need to move to another position quickly took precedence and Matt had to be flexible.
Six short weeks later Matt had passed all the tests he needed to in order to start working as an HGV driver; however, after 9 months doing that his employer closed down and once again Matt was forced to ask “What next?” Agency driving meant flexibility for the entire family and enabled Matt’s work schedule to accommodate childcare and his wife’s career. Ultimately it also provided the flexibility he needed to launch Sportive HQ and see that it was established before he phased out HGV driving completely.
One of the biggest hardships for Matt during his driving days was not being able to ride his bike. He missed it hugely, even as he was organising charity cycle rides which raised thousands of pounds each year for good causes. At this same time, costs to riders for commercial events (sportives) were increasing, which meant many cyclists were losing interest in taking part.
Here Matt spotted an opportunity. Instead of taking the view others were taking—this is too expensive, I’m not doing it anymore—he thought “I can do this better and cheaper.” Matt decided to transfer his organisational experiences from the charitable cycle ride sector into the commercial sector. The result was Sportive HQ.
He started with one event in the first year (while still driving full time) then stepped up to three events the next year (driving part-time), ploughing all the proceeds back into the business. Since then, Matt has focused solely on developing Sportive HQ.
The upshot of the story for Matt, like many people who make a big career change, is that the process is often more evolutionary than seismic. Sometimes the best-made plans are derailed by the unexpected and require creative alternatives. So if you’re thinking of changing career, be prepared to work in phases, be resilient and make a plan based on what you know about yourself and what you want to achieve. Ultimately, like Matt, don't be afraid to make a new plan if that's what it takes.
Thanks to Matt for sharing his story with us.
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