Sponsored Feature: A Healthy Approach to Growth
As part of their commitment to supporting small Irish business, Bord Gáis Energy recently ran an online competition for small business owners to win a business profile on the small business pages of independent.ie, as well as €500 worth of electricity.
We caught up with competition winner Erica Brennan of The Fitness Agency, to learn more about how she plans on energising her business over the next year.
A small local gym, which started out in the back garden of a family home in Howth, The Fitness Agency is focused on helping people transform their bodies, increase fitness levels and reach personal goals. Erica Brennan, founder and director of The Fitness Agency, set up the gym in 2009, aged 19, and since then has been providing personal and group training, group classes, 60+ fitness and pre and post natal training at affordable prices.
Having started her business at a very young age, Erica attributes her flair for entrepreneurship to her parents.
“Both my parents are entrepreneurs and have an amazing work ethic which they’ve passed onto me. I fell in love with fitness and was eager to instil this passion for healthy living and wellness in others. One of the main reasons I wanted to go out on my own was that I saw a gap in the market for those who want to maintain good health but had little time. I knew I could do something for this market.”
Erica is a huge advocate for the importance of a personal approach and this is an important element in her company’s continued growth. She sees the key to her success as ensuring that client satisfaction is up to scratch. Client needs and feedback are at the heart of all that The Fitness Agency offers, including the services they provide, the equipment they invest in and the classes that they offer.
KEY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2014
Erica recognises the cash flow and cost challenges that small businesses face in the current economic climate. “It’s a tough climate and although entrepreneurs will always seek out opportunity, upward only rent rates, staff costs and day to day bills are tough for a small company to keep on top of when starting out.”
However, she remains optimistic and sees a number of opportunities for The Fitness Agency.
“We do a number of things to grow our customer base in the local area. The first week of every month is member’s week where we ask clients to bring along family and friends to try out our classes for free. We have also started a kids’ club– this is something we have been really excited about as fitness is important from a young age.”
“Our plan is to continue to grow by keeping on top of industry developments and offering a great personalised service to our client base.”
SME BUSINESS CLIMATE
Small businesses must constantly innovate and evolve for survival. As a small operator, Erica believes the personal touch and added value her staff offer, are essential to the company’s success.
“I am the R&D manager, HR manager and Marketer – not to mention a fitness instructor. The Fitness Agency staff, equipment and classes are our key assets and this is what keeps us competitive and clients coming back.”
Social media is essential for an SME in today’s business climate.
“We speak to our clients via facebook, twitter and the website and this has been pivotal in promoting our business. I also keep an up-to-date nutrition blog which offers tips for healthy eating and nutrition to help our clients outside of the gym as well as in it.”
ENERGISING THE SME SECTOR
Erica believes the key to reinvigorating the SME sector is for both the banks and government bodies to provide more support for entrepreneurs.
“It would be great to see a suite of fresh incentives for start-ups introduced. This might encourage more people to set up their own businesses and help industry in Ireland; this in turn will create jobs and get our country in better shape,” she says.