So, as you possibly may know by now I am currently the #StarBiz over on #IrishBizParty and get to host the popular Twitter networking event this Wednesday evening, 26th March from 9pm – 11pm. As  the incumbent #StarBiz my business was featured in the Small Business section of the Irish Independent online. Part of this feature (you can read it here if you missed it!) required me to list my top 5 tips for start ups. Obviously I went for some generic tips appropriate for all businesses but they are, in my mind, especially important to fitness business start ups. As a result I have decided to re-publish them here for everyone to see.

1. Healthy Mind, Healthy Business

When running a small or start-up business it can be easy to overstretch yourself, working long hours and facing many sleepless nights. I am a firm believer that if you look after yourself everything else becomes easier. You don’t have to be a gym bunny for this, it’s just about taking a step back from the business and having a chance to relax and recharge. Find out what works for you and ensure you always make time for it in your working week.  Personally, I like to practice hot yoga early in the morning to calm my mind and allow me to focus for the day ahead.

2. Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Retention is a key issue in our industry but applies to all businesses. By now we all know that it can cost between 4 to 7 times more to get a new client than to hold onto an existing one.  Technology, particularly social media, is making it easier than ever to continue to engage with your client base outside of the business and allows you to build a positive rapport to ensure they keep coming back.  Use these tools to show the human side of your business and to share great content rather than just publishing endless sales promotions.

3. Be Compliant

Sadly my experience to date has been than many SMEs fall down on compliance and particularly micro-businesses. It appears that we disregard our own health and safety when working solely in the business. The law however is just as applicable to a one-person micro business as it is to a large multi national. The irony is the impact of a workplace injury in a one-person business can be far more damaging. Manual Handling training should be completed by all staff and if working in the service industry basic first aid or CPR training is a good idea too.  A health and safety statement should be drafted to include a risk assessment. Getting compliant will save you in the long run by limiting expensive litigation, workplace absence and bad press.

4. Expand Your Knowledge

If you want to be the best in business you have to stay on the cutting edge. This means continuing your professional development throughout your career. Fitness professionals registered with REPs Ireland or the NNR must gain ongoing credits to secure their accreditation and they can do so by attending relevant training workshops and conferences. Reading industry journals and business papers is another great way to keep up to date on any changes in your business sector.  Ultimately, ongoing research and development will broaden your knowledge base and thus your expertise.

 5. Pave the Way

Starting out in business is tough, so tough in fact that often people take the easy option and piggyback on another SME’s idea. Always remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it’s likely this means your business idea is a good one! If you are original and creative you will always be able to innovate and evolve. Pave the way in business and while others may imitate or follow, you will always be one step ahead.

So that’s my top five tips! Let me know your thoughts or indeed what you think I’ve missed out on in my list. Also, if you are around on Wednesday evening make sure to pop by to the networking party on Twitter by simply using the #IrishBizParty hashtag in your tweets. I will have more tips for the evening and will introduce all newcomers to lots of other likeminded SMEs. Follow me @CornerShopGym and get involved!