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YHP Interviews Nick Ferguson, Founder OF Sustain Fitness

Nick Ferguson

Hey Nick, how is it going? Thanks for your time.

Thanks Joseph, busy as always! Thanks for the opportunity!

Can you give us some background information about yourself?

I have been an athlete in many different sports over my lifetime, from a runner to football, to martial arts to cycling! Cycling was my final sport, I loved the freedom of it and the huge amount of dedication you had to have, just to be competitive. I went on to win 2 Junior national titles in 2006 and started developing further from there. I always loved being competitive and following after things I enjoy doing. When I was ‘growing up’ I could never work out what I wanted to aspire to, which frustrated me greatly! I thought, ‘how am I meant to plan out my life if I don’t know what I want to do?’ School was a bit of a struggle, although I did well, I didn’t really want to be there, I would have much preferred to be out training or learning something more applicable knowledge instead.

When I’m doing work, study or cycling, I like to play guitar, mix up music and play with fire – Seriously!

Fire Photo(2)

So tell us how you got into the fitness business?

I sort of fell into the fitness business.. It all started out because of getting hospitalised with pnemonia. I was in my final year at school, and was literally 4 days away from the national championships and I came down incredibly sick. I ended up losing my sponshorship and scholarship with cycling and was left a bit high and dry. I still hadn’t worked out what I wanted to do regarding my future career, and figured I better make a decision quickly! I wanted to do something different from what other people did – or at least what I thought they did… i.e try as hard as you can at school, so you can get into the best possible university course, so that you might use it for your career and hope you work out what you want to do in the process. I wanted to be able to apply myself fully to whatever direction I chose, because I knew I would be successful and I knew I would enjoy it.

I wrote down all the things I enjoyed doing on a piece of paper and then wrote down jobs I was aware of that included those things. Some of the things I wrote down included: cycling, meeting new people, helping people, listening to music. Turns out there is a job where I could do all of this, and get paid!

I started out in the fitness industry as a Spin (cycling) instructor at Next Generation Gym in Adelaide. I just searched for a job that I thought would make me happy.

Why did you start your business? Why did you decide to start your business?

I didnt start my business straight away, it took me a while to decide to make the step. I began to get frustrated that I was only qualified to do one thing at the gym, teach spin classes, so I went and furthered my education and took on the personal trainer course full time. This allowed me to do nearly everything I could hope to do in the fitness industry and I figured I would start out by taking on more roles at the gym. As I studied and learned more about the fitness industry however, I found out more and more that the attitude, structure and function of gyms didn’t really fit in with my idea of health and fitness. It didn’t represent to me what it was all about.

The idea came to me to offer flexible fitness, what if I could bring the fitness to them? In their own environment? Take out the hassle of making the time to go to the gym, because I will come to them. I saw this as an opportunity to start something with relatively low capital to begin with and where I was able to help people in a way that a gym couldn’t always do. Come into their life and help them change it. I had created myself a job!

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How is it like, being an entrepreneur?

That still seems such a strange term to be called. I always thought of entrepreneurs as people who turn nothing into something or something worthless into something huge and amazing! Being entrepreneurial has been one of the most liberating things for me though. I love the fact that any ideas, goals or aspirations I have, there is really nothing stopping me from trying to reach them. Often, there will be a lack of money, contacts, resources and time to make these ideas happen, but at least they aren’t being shut down by a boss that doesn’t share the same vision as I do!

The best part about it is the flexibility to follow whatever ideas you may come up with through to reality, the hard part is managing them all and choosing the best ones!

I think it is a diffifult thing to explain to others around you, particularly friends, exactly what it is you do. I’m still working that out myself…

At what age did you encounter your entrepreneurial experience?

I was 17 when I started Sustain Fitness, but looking back, I definately had some entrepreneurial flairs when I was younger, just lacked the confidence to follow anything through.

How did you raise money for your business?

Worked! I was working at the gym, earning $40 per week (one class). Lets say it was a tough few months start up… I had used my savings to pay for the personal training course, so I really relied on my new work coming through to put back into the business. I bought a basic array of exercise equipment for under $1000 and made use of that as best I could. This forced me to be very creative in my training methods and actually started out my fascination with bodyweight and minimal equipment training methods, which has been very successful.

Who are your main competitors?

Because of the relatively small amount of clients I work with and the specific nature of what I do, there aren’t too many other businesses I would consider a competitor. I say this because its not often I feel I have ‘lost’ a client to another business, its more I just haven’t found them yet! As Sustain Fitness has three main sections at the moment, I have different competitors for each.

The Fitness division has places like gyms, personal training studios and other personal trainers as competitors.
The Education division has places like Les Mills International and the Corporate division has other corporate fitness providers as competitors, but this isn’t yet a huge part of fitness in Australia. I’m watching this section quite keenly actually…

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

I wish I had just taken the plunge and got some more funding straight up. Although its nice to be able to say I have done all this with no help, literally from scratch, I could definately be further down the track if I had some more financial support.

I would have spent more time on brand identity originally, to find out what it was I stood for (still working on this one) and I would have tried to remain more organized.

Basketball Winning Team 2009

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

Building relationships. People buy from people they like and trust. I think the more people you can interact with, show you are a genuine person, and that you are just out to help others, people will be drawn to you. I believe honesty, integrity and respect go a long way in any relationship, business or otherwise, and I strive to uphold these values with everyone I meet, potential customer or not.

I also think that my ability to adapt and offer what this industry wants has allowed me to grow. Starting out originally as a Personal Trainer only, I quickly realised there was only so far I could take this. It was a job, and there was no business when I wasn’t working.

I always look for feedback from my clients and people I meet about what they need, what they want, how they are finding what we are doing currently and what needs to change. I am always looking to find things I can offer that benefits the customer first, which in turn can benefit me.

What motivates you to remain focused on growing your business/website?

Sometimes, I’m not sure about this one.. I know on a basic level, I have bills to pay, and I can’t just tell them to stop for a few weeks, because I want a rest from it all… I think my drive to succeed, and be the best I can be is a big part of it. This probably comes from all my years of sports. I know that natural ability can only get you so far, but your tenacity, drive and creativity will get you the rest of the way.

Probably the biggest part of if would be that I want to enjoy my life. I want to travel, I want to be fit and healthy. I want to go out for lunches and dinners with friends, date amazing girls and do amazing things. The more control and freedom I have in my life, both in free time and financially, the more likely I will be able to do the things I want to do. I just don’t see how holding down a ‘good safe job’ will let me do this. This is what keeps me focused.

What has been your greatest challenge as a business leader, and how did you overcome it?

Probably one of the hardest times I have had was quite recently, when the financial crisis had reared its head, as well as the winter down turn also. I saw a 75% cut in my income, and was barely scraping by. Savings were dipped into – it didn’t feel good. So, I got a bit creative and dreamed up a few projects through gyms, build up a list of clients, invested in some new equipment, put HEAPS of work into it, to find out the gym wasn’t allowing the project to go ahead. When you get these sorts of dissapointments, you can do two things, give up, or find another way. Sometimes finding another way means shelving the idea for a little while and working on something new.

As it turns out, the gym h as come back to me for a meeting, after overwhelming member feedback asking for it to go ahead! We may have progress yet…

You are currently planning a 6 week challenge to find Adelaide’s fittest guy, who is that going so far?

Really well! It started this Monday, kind of amazing really. It all started out over a few beers with a friend, where we challenged ourselves to a 6 week fitness challenge to see how fit we could get. Just over a week ago, I got called up by a radio station who were asking for my advice on how to prepare for a running event, which turned into a promotional opportunity, we found sponsors, a charity, put up forms on the website and the competitors started rolling in! You can get so much work done in so little time if you set yourself to task. This has turned into a good opportunity for me to showcase my training methods also, because I can show people my results on myself over the 6 weeks. Time will tell! It will be good fun either way.

Do you have anyone you model yourself around?

I like to keep up to date on what Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson and Skip La Cour are up to.. Twitter makes this easier I guess! That is one thing I guess, I haven’t found anyone who I model myself on just yet. I observe the positive traits of people around me and try to model those aspects to make myself a better person, and learn to avoid the negative traits I see in people too! Sometimes I will see a movie that has a powerful character, such as Tyler Durden from Fight Club, or even James Bond in any of the more recent films… Not necessarily going to go and blow up some Aston Martins or pick fights with myself after watching them, but they are cool guys none the less!

Do you have any favourite young entrepreneur at the moment?

I met some great guys over in Sydney earlier this year for the news.com.au Australian top 10 under 20 Entrepreneurs actually.
Young Entrepreneurs 2009

Miek Jarocki from creditcardfinder.com.au and Ryan Djurovich from Antevo (Sydney and Melbourne) are doing really well at the moment! Also Shaun Stenning from Aus with his SEO and online Marketing Business.

What is your favourite quote?

I have a few, but I really like ‘The difference between a goal and a dream is the written word.’ ‘Follow your bliss’ also comes to mind.

What advices do you have for young entrepreneurs contemplating or those that have actually started their business?

Stay focused! Don’t let anyone or anything come in your way of achieving what you have set out to achieve. Aim high, set a very clear goal of what you want to achieve, write it down and have it visible to you every day. The ‘how’ will probably seem crazy, but don’t worry too much, it seems to have a way of working itself out.
Surround yourself with positive, influencial people. Their support and their success can help motivate you to achieve better than you thought originally possible! My mentor, Tim has been very helpful in this whole process. If you don’t have a mentor yet, what are you waiting for?

Finally, don’t be afraid to pay for expert help. Be that advice, services or products. The right investments can pay for themselves many times over.

What should we be expecting from you in the future?

Hopefully I’ll be getting myself more onto the public speaking circuit, I’ll be conducting some seminars at our FILEX fitness convention in Sydney next year if all goes well… I have a few decisions to make in the next two months regarding which direction I fully commit to, but if all goes well, you will be seeing a line of Sustain Fitness Workout DVDs, new certified courses for Spin instructors and Fitness Entrepreneurs, plus some exciting new content online – Videos, challenges and new content (www.sustainfitness.com.au). It’s going to be hard, its going to be fun. Can’t wait!

Cheers

Thanks for the time nick

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The 71 years old has been sentenced to 150 years in prison for his multibillion-dollar fraud scheme.

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Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.

William Saroyan

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Interview with 20 Years old Entrepreneur

CECY2 - Copy

Hello, how are you doing today?

I’m fine thank you. Just a bit busy with planning for this summer’s catwalk shows.

Can you give us some background information about yourself?

I am 20 years old and was born on 12th May 1989 in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. Raised by a single mother, we used to travel a lot to the UK since I was a baby. Whilst there, I attended Academic International Primary School (AIPS) and my favourite subject was Art which I ended up winning an award in, for a real life drawing of my teacher. So, I have always been a very creative person from a very young age. My mum and I moved to the UK when I was 12, in 2002 and start a new life in Leicester where I attended secondary school, then college. Now I am currently at university studying Journalism & Public Relations.

Can you tell us about your company and what you do?

Cecy Ctyles is a new fashion brand that specializes in tailor-made ladies wear for special ocassions; from birthday celebrations to wedding receptions and even clubbing nights out.
We have an annual design catalogue which can be viewed on our online boutique http://www.cecyctyles.com. We have four collections so far; African, Club, Cexy corsets and Slasa wear and all the designs on it can be customized; from lengthening features to completely changing the fabrics used on them.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for from the catalogue, we offer free Fashion Consultations with our designers who will sketch unique designs for you and guide you through the whole design process. We have a wide range of fabrics (most of which is sourced from Tanzania) and accessories to chose from the create our clients’ ideal outfits. Clients may also provide their own designs and fabrics using our Tailoring Service.
Our prices are inclusive of customizations, delivery and tax, so what you see is what you pay. Designs are made and delivered within 5 working days and all orders are entitled to free minor alterations for three months.

What inspired you to start the business?

2009 FRONT PAGE - Copy

Well, I have always loved fashion and always wanted to be a Fashion designer. I used to make clothes for my Barbies when I was a little girl because I didn’t like what they were wearing. At the age 10, I started my own business in primary school, selling custom-made beaded jewellery, which I made myself, to young girls from my school which went very well until I moved to the UK and had to shut it down. So when I learnt how to make clothes for real people in school, I was so excited about becoming a fashion designer in the future.

BETS2

It was only during my first year of college that reality really sank in. I had made a wrap dress with leather cuffs & corset belt for my first AS Level textiles project that I had modelled at the Haymarket Schools & Colleges annual fashion show in Leicester. And after our catwalk, a lady from the audience ran up to me and said “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I love your dress, can I buy?” I was 16 at that time so I offered to make her an exact copy of it as she said she was going to wear it on holiday in Spain. Her name is Roisin Tear and when I delivered her dress she said “you’re very talented and I think you should start your own brand with a website and everything”. So I did.

Who would you say your competitors are?

My competitors are mainly UK clothing retailers as they have been established for way longer than I have and they know exactly how the whole consumer industry works. But there are also a few UK tailors who are providing similar services to mine although their products are quite different. Cecy Ctyles is one of the first tailoring designer labels that gives its clients total say into their designs, with good quality products for an affordable price.

Who are your target markets?

It is aimed at women aged 18 to 35 years old who love looking glamorous by wearing unique designs.

JAIMIE3

Did you raise money to fund your business?

Yes, I do. When I first started it as a hobby, I had to fund it from my part-time job and my mum invested in buying the equipment for it. But since opening the online boutique in June 2008, it has basically funded itself. As I am concentrating on expanding it, all the money made from it keeps circulating within the business. I have my own separate source of income so I don’t have to dip into CC’s money at all. That way, the business is constantly funded without getting into debt.

What makes your design different from others?

Unlike other designs, Cecy Ctyles designs are interchangable and are undated. Our clients don’t have to get exactly what they see as they have the option of customizing the designs. And when it comes to fashion trends, we use classical features such as frills and slits that have existed since the beginning of fashion and will always be used. CC designs are simple but yet contemporary and they flatter the feminine figure.

How do you market your products?

Our products are marketed mainly through internet marketing whilst trying to establish a well known international brand name. Our main clients are from the University of Lincoln (where I study) so we advertise around the campus. CC takes part in a lot of fashion shows too e.g. this summer’s catwalk season; we have at least one fashion show every month from between June and October. We will be opening a new office in October this year in Lincoln as part of the expansion process.

Do you make your designs to season?

JACKIE6

Sort of. We have one annual catalogue so we make sure we design clothes with colours that blend in with all seasons. However the style of the clothes is ideally for summertime which is our busiest time of the year.

What fabrics do you use for your designs?

We use different types of materials depending on the collection. Our African wear collection is made of East African Kanga and Batik materials. The Batik we use is produced by our textiles designer Francis Nzengula who is part of our Tanzania team. And for the rest of the collections we use silky materials from satins (most of which are sourced from Tanzania) to chiffons; materials that are comfortable, flow very well and move with the body.

Do you feel your designs are relevant to today’s society?

Yes. Today’s society is more creative and a lot more picky than they use to be. Young ladies these days like to look smart and sexy for special occasions even if it’s just for a night out. And the older generation are looking for designs that will make them look younger as well as smart & sexy. And our designs are catered to those types of women.

When did you realise you were going to start up your business?

On the 2nd of June last year, the day when the online boutique was launched. My initial plan was to just display the designs on the website and keep updating it throughout my degree, then start up the business when I graduate. And when the website was complete, I just gave it to a few friends and within a few days, people we are asking to buy the designs. And that’s when I realised that this is it, there is no turning back now and no slowing down, I have to start building this business.

2009 TEAM

How has the entrepreneurial journey been so far?

It has been so much fun so far! I think because I consider myself a designer first then an entrepreneur second, I haven’t had to worry about financial problems or anything like that. My aim is to be famous and to see people wearing my clothes on a day to day basis. And if money comes along with it, then I’ll take it!
And so far, everything is moving five times quicker than I expected it to and I occasionally look back on it and think wow! It take at least most people at least 10 years just to get to the level that I am at and I did it in 4 years (considering that CC was just a hobby for the first 3 years). I am living my dream and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Do you have any role model/influence?

My role model is my mum. She raised me not to give up in life and to be patient as good things take time. Because of her, I have grown up to be very independent and am able to cope with whatever challenges life throws at me.

KAROL9

Who is your favourite fashion designer at the moment?

Jasper Conran is my favourite designer at the moment. I find it difficult to find clothes that fit me well because of my figure – which is why I don’t like clothes shopping and make my clothes instead. His clothes always fit me in all the right places and I love the materials he uses.

What advices do you have for someone looking to start their own business?

Be patient and never give up. Especially in the current economic situation, if you start up a business just to make money, then you will lose patience for it very quickly. Let your passion be greater than your entrepreneurship and you will gradually learn all the other business tactics. It is very hard work to be a successful businessman/woman and you have to make some sacrifices which will all be worth it in the future. Use all the talents you have to make your business succeed and appreciate everyone you meet along the way as they might be the ones who contribute to your success.

What should we be expecting from you in the future?

LAUNCH PARTY FLYER

Alot! CC is growing larger every day, so expect some great new designs and events in the near future. We now sponsor Miss Tanzania Europe and have a fashion show each month from June till October this year, so you will be seeing us nearly everywhere. The Cecy Ctyles official red carpet launch party is on Saturday 18th July 2009 in Leicester and it is just part of the beginning of this fun journey!

The Cecy Ctyles life is a dream come true for me and with God’s blessing, I will make it all the way to be an internationally famous fashion designer!

Thanks for your time and we all at YHP wish you the best in the future.


Cecy Ctyles Ltd
www.cecyctyles.com
Email: cecyctyles@gmail.com
Tel: +44 (0) 7930807292

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