Dal Dhaliwal is the first Indian woman to run a successful private fitness studio for women in the UK: Body Perfect Personal Training Studio in Coventry.
A health fitness expert who has been in the health and fitness Industry since 1998 her passion is to help busy women feel and look good, gain confidence and be the best possible version of themselves. Rupinder Kaur interviewed her about her business goals and how she has got to where she is.
What made you want to start your own business?
I had held various posts in the health and fitness industry, which included working in a premier Health and fitness club in Coventry. At the same time I worked outside in the community teaching classes. My career spans over 15 years in this industry. I have always been very driven and dedicated. Owning my own health fitness gym was my ambition. I also decided I wanted to help as many people as possible and wanted to establish myself as a leading health fitness expert in by city. I wanted to spread the word of wellbeing to all women – especially the Asian community. The other reason for wanting to start my own business was to have full control and control of all business decisions I made.
How did you come up with your idea for Body Perfect?
I always had a vision for my own business. When I launched the business in 2011 it was launched as a private fitness studio offering 121 Personal Training services to both men and women. However, although successful – the concept and business model didn’t feel quite right to me. So about a year ago I decided to narrow down my targeting niche and specialise in only women’s health and fitness.
What’s been the toughest part of the journey?
I think opening a business in 2011 – at peak of a recession was definitely a risky decision. So making the decision to move from employed to self-employed was a tough decision due to the economic climate. But I am a risk taker and once I make a decision there’s no changing my mind. The other toughest part was learning parts of the business at a deeper level – which I had never had done so before. Such as; marketing, accounts and developing an understanding of IT skills.
Also being self-employed can be very lonely and isolating at times. When working in a health club I was surrounded by almost 4,000 members and when I launched the business I was completely on my own. That in itself was a big change to adapt to.
The other challenging part of the business was the hours. I found myself working 7 days a week. Nearly every spare minute I had was spent on the business. I also have a family – I’m married and have three daughters ages; 20, 17 and 15. I had very little spare time but fortunately I have excellent time management skills, and tried to balance everything. It can become a bit of a ‘juggling act’ for women in business – therefore good time management skills are essential to have.
What are your hopes for Body Perfect?
To one day expand the business – launch more studios in the UK and then abroad. I would like to become established as the ‘Go to place and expert for Women’s health and fitness’
How did you come up with your business plan and funding?
My mentors are my two younger brothers who are very successful in business. They offered me guidance and help to develop my business plan. The business was self-funded.
How have your family and friend reacted?
15 years ago my father did not want me to work in an industry which he viewed as very male originated. It wasn’t considered a ‘suitable’ career choice for an Indian girl to choose – back in the 80’s. So I decided to train as a Beauty therapist. It wasn’t until 1998 I decided to follow my dream and study to become a qualified Personal Trainer.
My family are now very proud of what I have accomplished. When I told my father I had been given the new role of health and fitness presenter on BritAsia TV – he was so pleased and extremely proud.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get to where you are right now?
I would say time. I have had to put a lot of my spare time into the development and progression of the business. I have had to work during weekends and holiday times. Also I have had to face a lot of doubt, not self -doubt but rather from others out there…who believed it impossible for an Asian woman to be success in the Health and Fitness Industry. Even today I am very much a minority.
What are your tips for any other ladies wanting to start a business?
- Have a business plan and seek the guidance of a mentor who can help you. They will have already learn from a lot of mistakes and their personal experience can save you a lot of mistakes, time, effort and money
- Outsource all the things you are unsure of or hate doing, such as accounts , marketing etc. You can waste a lot of time on the ‘stuff’ you hate and this is valuable wasted time – time that you could spend on other areas of your business.
- Be clear about what your business vision / message is. Learn everything about your chosen business. Do your market research.
- Be prepared to work hard when the business is in its early stage. Once you become established you can ‘work smart’ rather than hard
- Try to keep a clear separation between your business and family life. For example I now never bring work home – I complete all my admin, phone calls etc. at my work establishment.
- Ask for help. For example, get the family to start helping you out at home. Time management is essential – especially when first launching a new business.
- If your main reason for business is to make money / profit only then you are setting yourself up for failure. Personally, I believe you should have a real passion for what you do, let that drive you forward. Money will soon follow.
Watch Dal on BritAsia TV, sky channel 833. New show to be launched Spring 2014. She will be the first Asian female Health and Fitness TV presenter in the UK!
For more info: www.bodyperfectpt.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/daldhaliwalPT