I’m more than happy to pass on advice, provide work experience or share business ideas. I love to chat about anything sporty or health-related!We’re also a big believer in strategic partnerships, so any related but non-competing companies out there, drop us a line and let’s see how we can help each other help more City professionals improve their health!Lastly, we’re particularly keen to talk to any entrepreneurial sporty types in Manchester, Birmingham or New York… (spot the expansion plan)!!
Frustrated with the lack of modern, relevant and pro-active health services on offer by her 'Big 4' company, and unable to find any companies to recommend, Anna spotted an opportunity to use her passion for sport and health to address a growing issue in the corporate world.
She escaped her consultancy job to set up 'http://www.spinachhealth.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">Spinach', a health company tailored to the corporate world.
I’m more than happy to pass on advice, provide work experience or share business ideas. I love to chat about anything sporty or health-related!
We’re also a big believer in strategic partnerships, so any related but non-competing companies out there, drop us a line and let’s see how we can help each other help more City professionals improve their health!
Lastly, we’re particularly keen to talk to any entrepreneurial sporty types in Manchester, Birmingham or New York… (spot the expansion plan)!!
I’m currently running http://www.spinachhealth.co.uk" rel="nofollow">Spinach, a company trying to solve the health issues of City professionals! We focus on fitness, nutrition, stress management and sleep – both advice and practical training.
On a day-to-day basis, this can mean anything from the 5.30am ‘get ups’ to run a personal training session at one of our partner gyms (run by a fellow Esc escapee!), through to meeting senior partners or heads of HR in large City corporations. I also spend lots of time meeting potential new team members, writing new workshop sessions, proposal work, building the Spinach Community (on our website, Twitter, Linked In and Facebook), PR and marketing… all the usual!
Lastly, we spend lots of time thinking up inventive ways of facilitating the debate about what will really help people manage their health when working 10+ hours a day, with no routine, in stressful environments etc, so that Spinach can continue to grow and develop.
I spent 7½ years working at Ernst & Young. Initially I worked in Audit before moving to Management Consultancy 5 years ago, specialising in Finance.
I’m really glad I spent the time I did in Professional Services; it gives you a fantastic grounding in Finance and key business issues you need to understand.
Also, for a company aimed at the corporate world, that experience gives you the credibility you need and shows that you understand the issues your target market are facing.
It also gave me a fantastic network! There is no way that I would be able to get a meeting with the Senior Lead Partner in a Big 4 accountancy firm had I not spent time working on his projects… oh and chatting randomly to him about triathlons! DO that!! You’ll be amazed how many doors it can open.
It's a bit of a bizarre story.
The best thing that ever happened to me was NOT getting promoted! I was a 'dead cert' promotee when the project I was managing went pear shaped, 6 weeks before promo decision day. I did all I could to save the project, but it was a senior level issue. The failure was still held against me and my promotion was canned...
I needed some 'space', so after some thought, I decided to finish my new project, but also study at night school and become a personal trainer (thinking it would help me earn some money whilst I pursued my dream job in sport).
I also took 5 weeks unpaid leave over Christmas 2009 (to cram in 8 exams!). The day before my 'holidays', the Partner on my new project asked what I was doing over my holidays... I decided to take a risk (he could only sack me from a job I currently loathed!), and told him I was going to finish my PT qualification and set up a company... he loved it!
From that point on I knew a company in sport and health was going to be my future.
I was seriously cheeky!
So in Jan 2010, I returned to work a qualified PT and having set up a company. I met back up with the EY Partner who agreed pre-Christmas to mentor me for the next year. I had an opportunity and I knew I had to grasp it. Knowing that EY were very genuine in their desire to improve their 'People' offerings, I wrote a full proposal and business case and proposed a trial of PT sessions, nutritional analysis and health agenda work 1 day a week... Amazingly, he gave me a 3 month trial.
The trial was so successful that I was allowed to continue indefinitely. 6 months in, I realised I could turn this into a viable business and started saving hard. I rented out rooms in my house to cover my mortgage and started to build up the website, and do other business admin in evenings and weekends.
By February 2011 I had enough funds in my bank to live modestly for a year, so I took the plunge and haven't looked back!
Best bits: I remember sitting around the dinner table with friends one Sunday evening and the conversation turned to Sunday evening blues – I realised that for the first time in years I was actually excited about Monday morning! That was amazing.
There have been loads of other great bits; from meeting some fantastic people through to meetings that you think will be a waste of time and actually turn out to be the most fruitful meeting of the week - go to them all, as you never know when you’ll be surprised!
Worst bits: I haven’t been on holiday this year and I have to do some work most weekends! There’s no glamour for quite a while!
Also, you will screw up... and it’s all your fault! My first sales pitch was awful… I still cringe now when I think about it, but I’ve learnt loads from it and I’ve moved on.
So much great advice, I can't fit it all here:
1. Don't try to be an expert in everything - you won't be! "You will pay for everything, in either time or money". Figure out what your skills are and what you can learn quickly. Outsource everything else - preferably to friends or in exchange for skills not money.
2. Don't spend any money you don't have to! Controlling costs can be the difference between success and failure in a new company, no matter how good your idea is. I met a guy who spent £5k on a website in week 1 and binned it 3 months later - bonkers!
3. Be cheeky! Friends love to be involved and strangers will also be amazingly generous with their time.
4. Don't let fear stop you from doing things. I had moments when I really struggled with this - I felt like my business wasn't mature or good enough. In reality, people do business with people they like, who are credible and have an enthusiasm and passion for what they do. 'Good enough' is often good enough.
In my opinion, the best general book on starting up a business is the http://www.amazon.co.uk/Financial-Times-Guide-Business-Guides/dp/0273761994/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315221681&sr=1-2" rel="nofollow">Financial Times Guide to Business Start Ups. It covers everything from the ‘softer’ business things like engaging your customers, through to the basics of tax and accounting. It’s updated annually, so it's always up to date.
Also, follow Start Up Britain http://www.startupbritain.org/" rel="nofollow">http://www.startupbritain.org/. They're plugged into some well-known entrepreneurs, have some good industry associations (eg. Marketing Agencies Association - MAA), and provide good info on funding competitions etc. I went to their launch events with MAA earlier this year, which were really good.