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Being Part Of An Accelerator

Being Part Of An Accelerator

Michelle Nicklin – Sandstone Yoga

The real business journey began when I joined an accelerator…

I love yoga.  I have loved yoga for over 30 years.  I had a growing yoga and Pilates business and when one of my private clients said in my studio you are very entrepreneurial you should try ESpark, I did question how a business like mine could benefit. Particularly given business funding isn’t what it was. How could this programme help me?  But being a flexible, open-minded yogi businesswoman I delved a little deeper. Before I knew it, I’d written an application and been accepted onto the programme. Then the real journey started….

“These other business growers weren’t insane, just insanely driven”

From day one I loved the vibe on the programme. So many other like-minded people all growing their own businesses, trying things out and to a certain extent, living on the edge like only risk takers can. These other business growers were not insane, just insanely driven and over the coming months I came to learn more about the drivers that bring people to starting out by themselves, rather than be a hired employee. I also learnt just how fast the world is changing, how technology is making the impossible possible and how some of these changemakers weren’t all in Silicon Valley, they were actually in Stirchley too!

I met my Enabler Joe Trodden at the beginning of the process and thought this was going to be a friendly, supportive and occasionally challenging arrangement. How wrong was I?  Going into that 1:1 sometimes felt homely, but often felt turbulent. Joe understood my business well from the beginning. At that stage I was about to launch my BFA accredited model: The Sandstone Yoga & Pilates franchise based on my model at Aldridge. I could no longer call the company Bliss Yoga, so I was rebranding to Sandstone.  I had invested a lot of retained profits into franchising and rebranding. This just had to work and Joe understood that too.

I had a real blow whilst I was on the programme”

I soon realised Joe was more interested in my mindset than the daily running of the business. He worked out why I was doing this, what the potential was and gave me some direction to get there.  Each time I would come away with action points that I had to tackle. Often we had agreed for me to do tasks I know I would never have done (and even avoided!) had I not been on the programme. This sounds peachy, but to work out what really drives you, what your fears are, what your insecurities are and what holds you back from your past, brings you up close and personal with yourself in a way you may find daunting at first.  I had a real blow whilst I was on the programme which included losing money, but Joe didn’t just say what everyone else was saying, he got to the heart of it with me straight away.  I felt really pushed by his questions, slept on it and woke up the next morning knowing I was never giving up and went on to grant my first franchise licence less than 2 weeks later.  I now have 3 franchisees (Sutton Coldfield, Aldridge & Bearwood) with a  4th location being announced very soon.

I joined Entrepreneurial Spark when I didn’t believe I was an entrepreneur but now with a 4th studio on the way I know ESpark will be happy to know I see myself as a grown up entrepreneur and brand owner now.  Thanks Joe and ESpark for all the tough love.  It paid off.  My success is your success and I am eternally grateful.