'The leap into the unknown was hard – you just have to do it'
EAMONN Tilley (left) worked for a multinational electrical wiring supplier for most of his life, but always harboured a passion for sports.
After losing his job, the 46-year-old Bray man launched his own fitness company, ET Sports, targeting a niche area of the market. He spoke to Sarah McCabe:
"I lost my job in the downturn and immediately knew I wanted to start my own business. I went straight into start-up courses with FAS.
"But the seed for my company had long been planted – I have been involved in coaching and fitness my whole life.
"I competed in triathlons and cross-country races for decades and coached school teams in running and swimming. Sports and physical fitness have always been my passion.
"The personal training market is pretty saturated but I realised there was a niche in the market for fitness coaching that targeted competitors.
"Lots of people want to get fit and lose weight but there is a clear group who train with an end goal in mind – competing a marathon or a triathlon, for example.
"They benefit the most from specifically tailored coaching.
"I work with everyone, from beginners to life-long athletes – I've taken people who couldn't swim and had them competing in open-water sea swims by the end of it. Total novices are welcome, as long as they have a goal.
"I don't just offer fitness training – I employ a number of sub-contractors, including a conditioning coach, a nutritionist, a masseur and even a chef, who advises clients on recipes for meals that will maximise their returns in the days and hours before a race.
"I have had relatively few start-up costs so didn't require funding. I rent out rooms for training rather than build or buy, to keep costs down.
"You'll have to pardon the pun, but I hit the ground running – I'm extremely busy.
"My reputation in schools and athletics clubs helped, as did simple word-of-mouth recommendations. Drumming up business wasn't the biggest challenge – taking the decision to start and leap into the unknown was the hard part.
"You have to steel yourself and just do it."