‘Don’t wait for it to happen, make it happen’

‘Our business is all about adding years to your life and life to your years.’ 

Our primary aim is to provide people who have had coronary heart disease the confidence to live a normal life again, and we know it is working because doctors are now referring people to us.

Our biggest achievement so far was hitting breakeven after nine months. The feedback for the idea was positive from the start so I wasn’t surprised how well it went, but it was still nice to get to that point. 

My motivation?

It may seem strange, coming from a business person, but I’m not motivated by money. 

I guess everybody wants to be successful but what motivates me is the fact that I can help change people’s lives. I’ve worked with people who literally couldn’t get out of a chair when we started with them, and it’s just great to see the improvements we can bring.

As an entrepreneur, you are going to get disappointing moments along the way. For me, it has been times when we have introduced a new service that didn’t get as much traction as I expected. The only way to respond is to go back to the drawing board and make it better. 

The fact that my wife Sarah now works in the business with me is great. We help each other over disappointments when they arise.

As for the stress of running a business? I love sport. If I can get out on the bike in the morning before work, I feel great. I was a strength and conditioning coach for rugby teams in the past and ran my gym for seven years. I’m a big believer in the importance of exercise. 

“Don’t go into business to be better than someone else”

If I were to do it again? 

I’d sit down more and plan. It’s important to have a plan A regarding what you want your business to look like, but you also need to have a plan B, C and D. In our case that meant adding strings to our bow to include not just coronary care but diabetes and weight management. It would have helped me to know that from the beginning.

Lessons learned in that others could apply?

Don’t go into business to be better than someone else. Go into business to be the best at what you do. 

When I opened my gym, my aim was to compete with 14 other gyms in the Clonmel area. Ultimately it was a mistake. It cost me money, and I had to close it down. By contrast, we are the only standalone business offering the services we do. 

How did I raise the money to start? 

It wasn’t a hugely capital intensive business to establish, but I did have to buy equipment. I had some savings, just enough, but to be honest, if it wasn’t for the financial assistance we got from South Tipperary Local Enterprise Office I don’t think we’d be here today. They provided us with 50% funding of our costs.

What would have made the start easier?

Not much, again thanks to my local LEO. The support I got was amazing. Not just on the financial side but their positivity, and the fact that they got eight different people to go through my business plan with me. You couldn’t buy that kind of help.

“Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself”

Who has inspired or motivated me?

My Dad, Don. He had a triple bypass operation in 2013, and when he came out of cardiac rehab he asked me, ‘Where do I go now?’. And there was nowhere, which is what gave me the idea for the business.  

Unfortunately, my father passed away a year and a half ago, not from his heart but from cancer. For me, his legacy is that he was the inspiration behind a business that has helped so many people in the Clonmel area to enjoy healthier lives. 

He was also a great worker, a very honest man, and a terrific father. He always told us don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself.

“It’s important also to know when to call it a day if something isn’t working”

What’s my attitude to risk?

If you’re going to be in business, you’re going to have to take a chance. I’ve taken a risk before, with my gym. Yes, I lost money on it, but I wasn’t stupid. I didn’t end up owing anyone money; I never let the family suffer as a result of it, and I never put the house on it. It’s important to be able to take a risk, but it’s also important also to know when to call it a day if something isn’t working.

What’s my ambition for the business?

To be a national provider of cardiac rehabilitation services. Thanks to your success here in Tipperary the plan is to roll it out nationwide as a franchise.

If there was one thing you could change about business culture in Ireland, what would that be?

The more people who support local businesses, the better, both for the businesses and for the local communities. I’d like to see more of it because I think it’s a classic win-win.

READ MORE: Eight Irish business women who are shaping the future.