Being part of the Swim Teachers Network is a privilege for me. When I launched this network I had no idea how many aquatic professionals from around the world would be sharing in it or how beneficial it would be to so many.
I am very grateful to have been told by people in the industry whom I admire that it was an ‘industry changer’ and also to know that a number of professional initiatives by respected organisations have been created as a result of it. Like so many successful ideas, it started on a very personal level because I wanted to talk to other teachers, ask for help, share good ideas, good days and bad days. And who could possibly have foreseen that something so personal to me would resonate with so many others too. But isn’t that the nature of good ideas?
Imitation is also par for the course – when a good idea takes off, others will try to copy it and that is fine. The aquatic world is a big place and there is room for all of us. But what is important to me is that the Swim Teachers Network, its many regional network pages, its training and advice network and the Swim School Owners Network, stay true to themselves, reflects the basis and principles of what it was created to do; keeps an open mind and eye on where it could go next – and how it can stay relevant. The other groups can do what they want to.
And in many ways these are the keys to running a successful business. Have a good idea that resonates with you on a person level – and accept that there will be others that come along that will do it differently.
A topic that comes up repeatedly on the Network is the fear of business competition. It is not openly or knowingly ‘fear of competition’ but the underlying theme is clear. Some swim schools spend a lot of time – valuable time – focusing on what another swim school in their area is up to, whether their teachers are as qualified or as safe, whether they are doing a good job and so on. In some cases this can be an all-consuming activity which gives the competition far more power over you than it deserves. Your time would be better spent focusing on what you do right, what you believe in, what makes you a great swim school and why swimmers should want to swim with you – and then tell people that. But you know, sometimes you are doing everything right and yet swimmers choose the other option – that’s just the way it goes. Parents have the right to make their own decisions – even the wrong ones – that is their power.
Your power lies in doing what is right for your swimmers and your business. Value your power and own it. Believe in it and believe in yourself. I am saddened where posts seem to show that the balance of power in a swim school lies with the parents. It is not the decision of the parents when and where your swimmers wear goggles. It is not the decision of the parents to choose to pay after your deadline and still expect a lesson. It is not the decision of the parents to tell you when a swimmer should move up a class. It is not the decision of the parents to tell you when an award should be made. It is not the decision of the parents to tell you how to do your job as a swim teacher or a business owner. If you allow this to happen then you are giving the power to the parents – your customers.
Who holds the power in your swim school? Whoever has the power runs the business.