A dream come true for a North Wales personal trainer as she launches her own fitness business.
Sarah Holland-Curry started her own personal training business in August 2019 in Llandudno. With a vast experience in training clients, Sarah needed support with the business aspects of starting up and got in touch with the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service.
- advisory start-up support
- successfully launched in 2019
- 2 jobs created
Introduction to business
Flex Fitness is a new fitness and wellness business working out of AT Studios in Llandudno, offering personal training, small group training and a wide range of classes including the popular children’s ‘Little Lifters’ class, PiYo (a high-energy class using a combination of pilates and yoga moves), weight training and Hatton Boxing for fitness, as well as nutrinional coaching and Bodymetrix measurement check-ins upon request.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
I have always had a passion for health and fitness, and over the past ten years have undertaken qualifications to get me to personal trainer level. This has meant that I can really reach out and help people change their lives by improving their health. I managed to talk myself out of ‘taking the plunge’ and following my dreams, basically for fear of failure. I was working full time as a Customer Service Manager whilst taking fitness classes before or after work, which kept my love of fitness alive for the short term. However, meeting Lowri Roberts from Business Wales, as well as receiving encouragement from some special people in my life, helped me decide to take the massive plunge into self-employment and be in charge of my own hours and workflow.
If anyone believes being self-employed is an easy ride, then think again! At the very beginning, you have every role in that business: marketing, accounts, cleaning, ordering, admin, all on top of your main career roles and responsibilities. Some days it can be exhausting but it’s so satisfying when you realise you are your own boss and accountable only to yourself!
I’m told the first two years are the hardest and most tiring, I can definitely vouch for that, but it’s also extremely rewarding knowing that I am building something from scratch for me and my family, while also helping so many people on their quest for better health.
What challenges did you face?
Although in its infancy, Flex Fitness has encountered some challenges. I have already made some mistakes but I’m sure this is to be expected as I’m only human! I had zero knowledge of marketing (in fact, this is still my biggest struggle and most time-consuming task but very much needed in the industry I’m in).
I am not great with figures so have decided to use an accountant to ensure I keep my books in order for HMRC. I am a firm believer that you should outsource some jobs wherever needed, using professionals, which would allow me more time to focus on the things I’m good at.
Something I believe I’m good at is listening to my clients’ struggles and helping them find the best way to overcome them. Rather than tell them what I think they need to do, I allow them choice and room to find their own way with my support which leads to better choices for the long term.
My game plan to success is to continue to play on my strengths and seek training via Business Wales, paid help through other professionals and guidance from my ‘fairy business mother’ Lowri to help where I struggle, as I’m fully aware that every business needs help in one area or another.
Business Wales Support
Business Wales came on board when Sarah finally decided to take the plunge into self-employment. Her business adviser, Lowri Roberts, assisted with guidance on all start-up issues including market research, GDPR, business bank accounts, legal status for the new venture and marketing.
Lowri further signposted Sarah to relevant contacts to help her with the launch and assisted with business planning and financial forecasting, in readiness for the successful start of Flex Fitness in August 2019.
- advisory support with all aspects of starting a business
- signposted to relevant contacts for further guidance
- successfully launched in August 2019
- 2 jobs created
Although a difficult decision to set up as a self-employed female, it does feel empowering to know that even with the current Brexit issues, there is still a chance to make it as a start-up if pulling from the right support channels such as Business Wales.
I could not rate Lowri high enough for the quality information she has provided, encouraging chats, signposting for this very novice business mind of mine and not least for putting herself and her daughter in my capable hands with their health and fitness needs. Lowri is one special lady with a very caring nature – if not for her support, I don’t believe I would have decided to give up my 9-5 to live the life I love and the career I truly belong in. Lowri understands the challenges a start-up faces as she has personally lived the life of running successful businesses, which fully instils my trust in her advice and guidance.
Lowri’s first big task for me was to have me agree to stand up at a Women in Sport conference, talking about myself and my journey through fitness. This was a massive challenge and a big step for me as public speaking at this level is not something I had ever done (I did lose a few nights’ sleep, haha!). Saying that, it was the best experience and I gained some contacts and brilliant clients from pushing through my barriers and letting my guard down to take part in the awesome Network She Women in Sport conference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Lowri, you’re an absolute superstar!
Future plans and ambitions
As it’s still very much early days for Flex Fitness, I have many plans for the future , but to progress and have long-term success, I need to ensure I build a solid foundation and not try to run before I can walk (I’ve already learned this the hard way!).
Children’s fitness outside of the usual school sports is an area I’m interested in as not all children are inspired by football or netball so weight training, boxing and PiYo for children is something I’m keen to progress and grow on. One day I also hope to own a gym to build a solid house for my growing fitness family and open this up to special needs users creating an inclusive fitness facility catering for various disabilities. I guess the future is bright and I’m very excited for the ride.
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.