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Chat with a Chamber Member

Mon, 2013-03-25 15:37

John Laurie, Joint Director, Burn It Fitness, shares some of his business stories...

What five words would friends/colleagues use to describe you?

Confident, Strong, Spontaneous, Determined, Motivational

Have you had any amusing moments in business?

In 2011 we appeared on STV for a residential fitness retreat.  On screen it looked great but as it was for PR, and we couldn’t afford catering or waiting staff, behind the scenes I was cooking healthy calzones, our fitness instructor was waiting the tables and Paul was cleaning the dishes whist I went on camera.

How do you think West Lothian compares to other parts of Scotland as a place to do business

It is much more of a community feel than other parts of Scotland.  Our business in West Lothian much more word of mouth compared to Edinburgh and Glasgow.                                  

What are the advantages of West Lothian?

The Centre  is a major tourist attraction for West Lothian, travel networks are very well established if frustrating at time but the new Bathgate – Airdrie extension has dramatically improved rail service to Edinburgh & Glasgow. Having a diverse population creates a rich talent pool which in turn attracts and retains many of the blue chip companies we sometimes take for granted

What’s the best thing about being in business for you?

Don’t get us wrong it’s not for the faint hearted, especially in the current climate but being in business for yourself is very liberating. We see our brand as our child and watching it grow up and stand on its own two feet fills you with a great pride. When we employed our first member of staff we really felt we had achieved something.

And the worst?

Every entrepreneur knows the worst part of what we do is the uncertainty of cash flow. Continually trying to achieve your goals and invest whilst being cautious not to over extend is a tight rope walk in the current financial environment, there is no one to catch you if you fall.

What do you do to encourage your staff to work enthusiastically?

We can’t give the big bonuses like banks do; but then I’m not sure that really work. In its place we make our team part of the business they have input into our strategy and when we have tough time we are open an honest with them, including them in the strategy planning helps them see their role in the overall objective

How do you promote your business?

We made a conscious effort in 2013 to take 80% of our marketing spend online. Print material still has its place but the opportunity to have instant feedback on the success of your campaigns through insights panels means we can make sure we optimise our advert to our demographic and measure our ROI down to the last £1. Facebook has been one of our strongest channels

Have you ever had a mentor? … How has it impacted your business?

We were appointed a mentor by West Lothian Chamber and the benefits to us is having a ‘time served’ entrepreneur ready to help Chair a meeting or just chat you through your current situation. We were very lucky in being appointed Peter Wilson who spent time really getting to know our business so that the advice he was giving us was truly tailored to our needs