This story is about…
Name: Anne Larchy
Company: Al Fitness
Industry: Health & Fitness
What motivated you to start your business?
Having worked in the corporate world myself for more than 15 years, I always struggled to combine work, travel and a social life with exercise and healthy eating.
Over the years, my weight crept up, until one day I had a total shock when I got to a weight I never thought would be possible for me.
I decided to try and do something about it, and hired the services of a personal trainer.
By then, although I was still working as a sales director in an IT security company, I had finished my personal trainer’s course myself…but still couldn’t manage alone.
In February 2010, I quit the corporate world and decided to follow my dream of helping people change their lives round to a healthy lifestyle and help them combine work and family life as well as exercise and healthy eating.
Tell us about your business…
At AI Fitness we focus only on weight loss and lifestyle changes.
We work with men and women who are struggling to combine a healthy lifestyle with their hectic lives and over time have put on weight and got into bad eating habits.
Through our different programmes we help them change their mindset from being on a diet, to eating for health, as well as teach them what exercises they should do and get them to find the exercise they enjoy doing for the long term.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I went from being fully employed to self-employed overnight.
I had a chat with my accountant, registered as a sole trader, and took it from there.
I initially started to work as self-employed at a gym, and later on, with the help of business networking, got my own private clients.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
There have been a few good ways to get new clients. Two ways have been my most effective ones to date: business networking and having a results-oriented website with regular blog posts to keep it high up for SEO purposes.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Being self employed, it’s very easy to lose focus and get a little lazy.
18 months ago, I found myself left with very few clients as most had finished their programmes and I had been busy and didn’t continue my marketing efforts.
I learned that even when you’re busy, you always have to continue and market your business for future and new clients.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I hired a business and marketing coach, and with her help, I repackaged my services, restructured my weekly newsletter, set up a structured sales process, put some tracking systems in place for inquiries and much more. Basically, I just structured my processes much more.
What do you love about running your own business?
I potentially could work whenever or as much as I want. It’s up to me to decide where I want to get my business to and how much effort I want to put in to achieve it. There is no one telling me what to do. And the nice thing is that if I want to take an afternoon or a day off, that’s fine as well!
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Work with a coach from day 1. It might sound expensive, but you recoup the cost in no time, and won’t make beginner’s mistakes.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Through my business coach, I am now part of her “family” of clients and we all motivate each other. We have accountability buddies to keep us on track.
What’s your favourite quote?
“The key to success is just outside of your comfort zone.”
Who inspires you?
My business coach. I’ve seen her business grow from nothing to something amazing. And everything she teaches us, she has tested and implemented in her own business. So if you do what she teaches you, there is no reason why you wouldn’t succeed.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Always be upfront and honest.
If you can’t help someone, tell them and try and refer them to someone that can help them.