iCan Health and Fitness

Setting up a business for the first time can be daunting.

You might have the skills and know how to sell what you’re selling, but what about the other areas like finance, book keeping and social media?

Lisa Dykes and Julia Clifford found this when they set up iCan Health and Fitness in Carlisle in 2017.

Its aim was to get women exercising, improve their mental health, improve their rehabilitation into exercise and reduce social isolation.

The gym also offers a pay forward membership where some of its more affluent members pay extra for those who want to exercise but struggle to make ends meet.

Lisa said: “Myself and my business partner had no professional qualifications in finance or marketing when we started iCan Health and Fitness.

“I come from a theatrical background and then I trained to become a health and fitness instructor. Julia had some experience with marketing when she lived in America – but that was 20 years ago. I wanted to learn how to do things right.”

Lisa, a director and activity coach, attended two courses in March this year.

They were Finance for Non-Finance Managers and an Advanced Digital Marketing Course.

The courses were funded by ESF through The Edge and were delivered by Carlisle College.

Lisa said: “I wanted to do my accounts and bookkeeping correctly so I understood what my accountant was saying. I’ve always been quite good at maths. I quite like looking at finances and working out what the bottom line is.

“I wanted to understand the lingo more and be able to prepare professional reports and use the right terminology.

“I’ve learnt everything on the job include social media. I basically used a few key words and buzz words but I learnt more about how to use the website and social media posts to get more hits and shares.”

Lisa says taking part in the courses has helped her business 100 per cent.

She now better understands the accounts, PAYE, end of year accounts and budgeting terms.

She said: “It was a brilliant and amazing opportunity and I would definitely recommend the courses to other people.

“The best bit was working with the other students – we were all professionals – so we could bounce ideas off one another. We asked questions of one another and learnt from each other’s mistakes.

“I can advertise my community interest company online. I can use social media to reach my target demographic. I have also learnt about vlogs and blogs to my website and how Google business and analytics could play a part in my marketing strategy.”