I’ve had the pleasure of developing a positive business relationship with Travis Bell, the innovative and intelligent Founder and Chairman of The Seven Bridges Group, a sports and entertainment management firm. Travis has the unique ability to develop rapport with virtually anyone and his approachable demeanor makes him an obvious choice as the agent for a variety of sports and entertainment clients.
During a phone interview this morning, I had a chance to talk with Travis about what makes his company successful. He provided some insightful tips if you aspire to be a sports agent although his pithy advice transcends to anyone desiring to start a business.
Michelle: What inspired you to start The Seven Bridges Group and what’s the concept behind the name?
Travis: I wanted to escape from corporate America. I was working for a large software company and I got a phone call one day saying we had a mandatory conference call in 48 hours. The call resulted in those words none of us wants to hear, “You’re being downsized; today’s your last day.” Since the company I worked for had 40,000+ employees, I found a job within the same company in a different department. During the transition, I had a week of free vacation time.
During that time, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be in this position ever again.” I had already completed my sports management degree and decided to proceed with securing all the required certifications.
The Seven Bridges name came about in a unique way. Based on my service offerings, I struggled to come up with a name for the firm. I was in San Francisco, sitting in the Carnelian Room at the top of the Bank of America building. It was a clear day and I could see the magnificent bridges of San Francisco – I counted seven bridges, thus the name Seven Bridges Sports and Entertainment Management.
Michelle: Tell me about the other services you offer besides sports management.
Travis: Although we’ve obtained many prominent clients in the sports industry, we offer entertainment management, working with actors, actresses, and singers. In addition, we offer legal services, alternative dispute resolution, and management consulting.
Michelle: You have quite a list of quality clients. How did you cultivate business relationships that led to acquiring these clients?
Travis: We’ve secured many of our clients through social networking sites and word of mouth. Others were the result of chance meetings (airports, restaurants, etc.) I focus on developing a relationship with the individual outside of their business. I find common ground and make myself approachable and available. Once I establish a relationship, they can see that I’m a premium agent/advisor who works diligently on their behalf.
Michelle: Once you acquire a new client, whether in sports or entertainment, in what ways do you nurture your clients and provide the top-notch service they expect?
Travis: The first thing we like to do is issue a press release to permeate the markets; that gets them immediate exposure. Some of our press releases boast of 100 hits in the first hour. Observing results like that registers with our clients. We try to be accessible 24/7 and we provide a vast array of resources for our clients including legal services, valet, relocation, luxury car service, insurance, high-end real estate agents, and other premium services important to our clients.
Michelle: Can you share a few of your business goals for 2011?
Travis: Our number one goal is to have measured success, meaning we know that a good agent/advisor can provide premium service to three to four clients at a time without spreading himself too thin. Our intent for 2011 is to open additional offices in several states.
Michelle: What is your favorite part of running your business?
Travis: Knowing that it’s something I created from a blank sheet of paper; not a template, not a franchise, it’s something born of my mind.
Michelle: What advice would you give to someone who’s considering starting a sports management company?
Travis: My number one tip is to first take time to make sure it’s something you really want to do. Your primary motivating force cannot be money. Another word of advice is to honestly ask yourself if you have the qualifications to manage your own business. Are you patient? Are you self-disciplined? Are you willing to wait for monetary increase? When you’re in business for yourself, there are no instant riches! A very small percentage of agents are among the wealthy.
You must have the fortitude to commit 110%. You must be prepared to ride the rollercoaster of independent employment, and believe me, there are plenty of dips and pinnacles. Flexibility is crucial when it comes to changing your plans and strategy. Your primary goals should not change. And don’t let anyone talk you down. My favorite maxim is: “Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean I can’t.” I don’t have time for energy vampires, or people who question my validity. Surrounding yourself with a strong support network is essential if you want any level of success.