Start your social business

Do you have an idea that you’re passionate about, but when it comes to getting it up and running you’re not sure where to start? Whatever your business, the first question to answer as an entrepreneur is which problem you are trying to solve. Two-time mountain biking Olympian Lea Davison turned her idea into a reality when in 2007 she co-founded Little Bellas, a non-profit mentoring programme that helps young women and girls to realise their potential through cycling. Read her story and then start your own business journey with the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.

  • Two-time Olympian Lea Davison saw a lack of female representation in her sport and decided to do something about it.
  • Determined to use her skills and experience as an Olympian, she turned her idea into a social business.
  • The Athlete365 Business Accelerator can give you the kick-start you need to follow in Lea’s footsteps.


Make a start

If you’re an Olympian or an elite-level athlete coming to the end of your competitive career, don’t underestimate the influence you could have, particularly on future generations. You could be a change-maker in a kid’s life and become an accessible human instead of a superstar. Think about the difference you want to make, assemble a plan and things will begin to fall into place.

Growing up in mountain biking, we didn’t see as many girls on the start line as boys. There would be 100 junior boys – and about 10 to 15 junior girls. Instead of complaining about a problem, we said: ‘We’re going to fix this’.

Stay determined

We encountered plenty of doubt at the start of Little Bellas and have had to overcome plenty of speed bumps. But if you have a goal and put your mind to it, you can make big things happen – just as you do in sport. Our hard work paid off, with Little Bellas going on to become a national non-profit organisation. The same could happen for you.

Assemble a great team

I used a lot of my contacts within the sport to help Little Bellas get started. I think any elite-level athlete is in a great position to leverage their contacts and their networks to make a change socially. It takes a village to get great results as an elite athlete, and this experience has proved hugely rewarding in assembling the team we have.

You’re already in an excellent position to utilise your contacts and networks in support of your start-up idea. If you find someone or a group of people eager to stand by your side – as I found with my sister [Sabra] – you can create a dynamic process that brings success. 

Use your network

You will find there are so many people eager to offer their help. I took the time to reach out to the contacts I had built from my time as a professional mountain biker, whether on the media or sponsor side, and this has really helped to grow Little Bellas. Part of our mission is to pair each Little Bellas chapter with a professional in the local area – so being well networked has made a big difference in making this happen for the young girls in our programme.

Be willing to learn

A willingness to improve and listen to others is crucial in allowing your business to grow. There’s so much to learn and absorb when trying to turn your dream into a reality. You won’t have all the answers, so having a great team behind the operation, whose advice you respect and seek out, is important.

Inspired to tackle an issue that you’re passionate about? The Athlete365 Business Accelerator will help you develop your own personal business plan from idea to reality. Identify a social problem that means something to you and then learn how to turn the solution into a new career.