Tell us a bit about your family?
I live with my IT consultant husband and our soon-to-be three year old.
What’s your business called?
Baby Tone Ltd.
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Baby Tone classes are aerobic sessions designed for new mums to begin getting back in shape together without the need for childcare, using their baby as resistance in order to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone
When did you start it and what inspired you?
I set up the business in 2013. After my maternity leave ended I decided not to return to my job in Central London (which was quite a trek, living in Kent). I began looking for local, flexible job roles, but could find nothing that I felt was worth leaving my son to go to each day. After some months of exercising at home as I was unable to get to the gym, I spotted a gap in the market for a baby-friendly exercise class, and after some market research I realised there was definite potential in this idea, and so spent the following months retraining as a fitness instructor.
How did you fund your start up?
After paying for my training, the costs for my particular business were actually quite low – some minimal equipment, insurance, some music downloads, etc – and so I was lucky to be able to set the business up using my existing savings.
How do you manage working around your children?
The fact that I could easily work this around my child was the driving force behind the pursuit of my business idea. I am able to practice the exercise routines during the day – initially using my son as a weight, but now he is older he loves copying me and learning the moves himself – deal with any admin in the evenings, and run my class each week while he is at nursery, with plans to add extra classes as his pre-school sessions increase.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
The priority every day is to make it to my son’s various toddler groups – music, football, swimming, etc – and this is what gets us up in the morning. After lunch I run through my routines to ensure I know them well enough to deliver during my class, which my son loves helping me with, and for the rest of the afternoon I manage to combine playing with and entertaining my son, cooking dinner, and doing any cleaning or jobs around the house that are required. In the evenings I am usually busy replying to emails, confirming bookings, sharing advertising, dealing with any HMRC paperwork, etc.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
The main challenge I have found is the high turnover of clients, meaning that I constantly have to be advertising and filling empty spaces in the class. Whereas somebody may stick with a regular exercise class for months or years if they enjoy it, my class is only suitable for babies up to a year of age. Most ladies join when their babies are around 3 months, and complete 2 or 3 courses, but due to the nature for the classes I know nobody is going to be staying long term.
To ensure that my classes are always filled, I do as much advertising as possible – mostly online, on Facebook, Netmums, etc, as well as exchanging flyers with other local baby groups and working in partnership with my local children’s centre to offer my classes to their database of new mums. I also rely a lot on word of mouth, so encourage current clients to take some flyers and inform their friends.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
The bext thing about being self-employed is the flexibility. I am able to do all the work required around caring for my son, and can choose the dates of my courses and when I am able to take a holiday.
It is also wonderful to be able to make all the business and creative decisions. I can be a bit of a control freak, and was previously frustratied in a job role where I had to rely heavily on others to do their job properly before I was able to do mine, and so I love the fact I do not have to rely on anybody else, and that the business’ success or failure is completely down to me.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I only run one class a week. I am hoping to expand this to 2 or 3 by the end of the year, perhaps further afield, and eventually have a successful enough business to be able to sell franchises to run all over the country.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
To just do it, and to do it properly. If you have an instinct that something might work, then it probably will, and if you ‘umm’ and ‘aah’ over it then somebody else may beat you to it, so have at it and give it all you’ve got.