Starting a business at any time is hard work, but starting a business that depends on one-to-one client interaction in the middle of a pandemic is even harder. That's exactly what Debra Wilton did during the 2020 lockdowns. She tells us her journey; why she started her business and her goals for the coming year.
This interview is part of our It's Never Too Late series, championing women regardless of age, to follow their big, bold ambitions.
Hi Debra, let's get stuck into it - what is it that you do?
I run Positive Fitness. I am a Personal Trainer – I qualified as a Level 2 Gym Instructor in September 2020 and then as a Level 3 Personal Trainer at the end of November 2020 – I was studying for them both simultaneously.
How old were you when you started your business?
I was still in my 40s but only just!
How long have you been running Positive Fitness for?
I have been running it since I started studying in July – I was doing all the behind the scenes work, i.e. website, business cards, social media, equipment, etc.
That's really organised! Most of us end up doing all the behind-the-scenes and running the business at the same time which can be a bit much! Had you run your own business before this?
Yes, I was a freelance business consultant within the newspaper industry since 2009. I was responsible for clients including corporates, hotels, private members clubs, restaurant groups - this was new and existing business. I also handled their social media, i.e. LinkedIn, launched their new website and dealt with all enquiries.
So what made you take the leap?
I was made redundant just at the very beginning of the pandemic when we could see the writing on the wall and because I have been in newspapers for more than twenty years and their demise is coming, the pandemic and lockdown has precipitated this. I dealt extensively with hotels and corporates which were going into lockdown and the guests weren’t coming and employees were working from home. This meant nobody was around and my role became redundant.
What did you find hard in the beginning?
The ever changing rules of the tiers – working 1:1; working inside; working outside; not being able to work too close to my client; not being able to work from the converted garage; not being able to work in the client’s home; the bad weather! The other thing I find hard or quite time-consuming is the social media demands and necessity.
What surprised you most about starting your own business?
I was blown away by the positive receptiveness of friends and family and their belief and encouragement knowing this has been my passion for years but never being brave enough to take the plunge.
It's always so nice to have that support in place. What would you do differently?
Nothing – don’t have regrets – you learn and move forward and live your experiences and you’re never too old. Go for it!
That's good advice! What are you passionate about?
My kids and husband and their wellbeing is my absolute priority - and then my family and friends. If I’m a friend I truly try to be the best possible I can be. I will fight for what I believe. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it and I’ll do my utmost to always get the best result that’s fair and deserved.
What makes you feel good inside?
Seeing others reach their goals and objectives. I want to help my clients fulfil their aims and objectives and feel good about themselves internally and externally. Most ladies suffer at some point with body positive issues and they need to understand the whole process of eating nutritionally well alongside doing exercise. Doing one without the other doesn't necessarily work and it's about empowering us to feel good about our bodies.
When we feel good about our bodies, we feel better mentally. When we feel better mentally, we actually want to work out and move our bodies.
Mental and physical health are very intertwined and actually more so than ever currently. If I can help my clients understand and move forward and feel fitter/healthier/stronger in themselves, then I'm doing my job/passion correctly. They don't have to stick to it always but the majority of time, they just need to keep at it and keep moving and reap the rewards.
What is something that's made you proud in the last 12 months?
Starting my new business and more qualifications.
What advice would you give to someone who has been dreaming of starting their own business later in life, but has been holding back?
I get the nerves but if you can do it in this most difficult of times, then when the better times come, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
My main goal is to grow my business, to increase my clientele, to give ladies, gents and kids the positivity and confidence to feel really good about themselves physically and mentally.
If you want to find out more about Debra & Positive Fitness here are her contact details:
Debra is currently running an offer: first session is free without obligation – see her website for more information
It's Never Too Late
Once thing we hear a lot from women over 40 is "I'd love to do x,y,z but it's just too late now". It's not. It never, ever is. We started this series as a way to encourage more women to follow their dreams and ambitions regardless of how many years they've been on the planet!
If you've got a story to tell you can contact us on Emma@womenwd.co.uk
Have you listened to our podcast? Her Business & Co is all about sharing the big stories from small businesses, just like yours. Listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast joy.