Biker kickstarts Rotherham racing school

Biker kickstarts Rotherham racing school

Self-confessed petrol head Gary Wilson began his love of all things biking at just 11 years old, saving cash from his paper round to buy off-road bikes.

A lift into Rotherham on the back of his neighbour’s motorbike fuelled his love for two wheels, inspiring him to take his bike test and get his license.

He then went one step further to encourage others to share his love of bikes, becoming a qualified motorbike instructor by the time he was aged just 24.

Struggling to fund his increasingly expensive hobby, which now included racing for Thundersport GB, Gary worked in various jobs centred on the one area he felt confidence in; driving.

He had stints as an HGV and taxi driver all the while pursuing his real passion - being behind the handlebars and working as a bike instructor in Sheffield.

Earlier this year, just weeks before he celebrated his 40th birthday, Gary decided to use his knowledge and expertise to fulfil his dream and launch his own riding school.

With an extensive knowledge of motorbikes but no prior experience of owning his own business, Gary sought advice from Launchpad; a business support programme which provides free advice to those exploring self-employment for the first time.

Working with an experienced business advisor, Gary learnt essential business skills such as bookkeeping, marketing and social media whilst also being advised on securing the funding needed to finally launch the business he had always dreamed of.

Gary said: “I have been a qualified instructor for over 15 years and I felt I was at a crossroads in my career and wanted to use my skills to teach people not only how to ride safely, but confidently.

“Many motorbike schools use group teaching which I felt didn’t necessarily act in the interests of a learner.

Since launching Wilson’s Rother Ride, Gary has chosen to reject the standard group training sessions commonly used when teaching first-time bikers in favour of a more personalised service.

He believes this helps riders to build confidence much more quickly and encourages more women to take-up the hobby - including his own wife.

For experienced bikers who are fuelled by a need for speed, Gary also provides specialist racing tuition and accompanied track days to learn and develop the essential riding skills needed to tackle high-speed circuits.

The support Gary has received from the Launchpad programme, coupled with his unique approach to instructing novice riders, has seen his business blossom and he is now hoping to expand his business across South Yorkshire.

 Gary continued: “I’d always liked the idea of working for myself, but I wasn’t really sure where to start, so I decided to contact Launchpad, who gave me confidence in my business idea and also offered specialist support, helping me to understand what it’s like running a business and becoming self-employed for the first time.

“Since I launched the business I’ve never looked back, and I think the way in which my lessons are delivered has encouraged more people, my own wife included, to learn how to ride a motorbike”.

Julia Millea, business advisor, Launchpad, said: “The best business ideas are born from a passion or interest and Gary spotted a new way of delivering lessons, built around sharing his love of motorbikes, but when it came to running a business, it was clear that he needed the L plates!

“The Launchpad programme was developed to offer practical support, advice and guidance to individuals like Gary who have never run a business before.

“The programme is available to anyone in Rotherham who is thinking of starting their own company and provides access to a comprehensive range of workshops throughout the Sheffield City Region, as well as one-to-one support and advice.”

The Launchpad programme is a £4M, three year, part-ERDF funded programme, designed to increase the business stock in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) through the provision of pre-start, start-up and post start-up support.

Published: 06 October 2017

Article by Chris Middleton
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