If you’ve read our article on Business Expansion then you’ll have a clearer idea on what to consider if you’re thinking about expanding your business. We sat down with Nat Jackson, one of The Business Village’s tenants to talk about her experience of expanding her business, Totally Runable.
Totally Runable was founded by Nat Jackson and Emily Freeman in 2015. It was born from the idea that ‘everyone has the potential to be great’ and this motto continues to be at the forefront of the work they do. Totally Runable aims to inspire women and girls to be more active, get fit and achieve their full potential.
BV: Why did you expand the business?
NJ: “We’ve known since fairly early in the life of Totally Runable that it was something we wanted to grow and be much bigger than ourselves, so I guess you could say it was in the pipeline for a while. The work we do has such a positive impact on the girls and adult women we work with, why wouldn’t we want to share that with more people? And to do that, we were always going to need to expand our team.”
BV: What support (if any) did you need?
NJ: “We’ve had support from various people in our growth plans over the last few years and it’s all been useful in helping us to focus on what we needed to do and how we wanted to do it.
“We’ve always been conscious that we want to do things well, but in a way that suits us and suits Totally Runable, so it’s always been about planned growth but also about our relationships with the people we work with and playing to everyone’s strengths as much as we can. We were part of the Growth Accelerator programme in our very early days, and then had support from Enterprising Barnsley which were both really useful. The latter came through our relationship with the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, which itself came through connections made through networking and in The Business Village with other business owners.”
BV: What impact has expansion had on the business?
NJ: “It’s been fundamental in allowing everyone to focus on the role they are best suited for. This allows for greater efficiencies in what we do, expansion in the amount of work we can take on, and capacity to work on projects we’ve wanted to for several years but haven’t previously had time to focus on.”
BV: What has this meant in terms of activity?
“Particularly in the last few months, we’ve been able to run more confidence-building girls courses in schools, improve the quality of the PE, sport and physical activity strategy work we do with Academy Trusts, and launch two campaigns; #SeeSportyBeSporty – publishing our research on photos of women playing sport in newspapers and the Girls and Sport Pledge for schools. Both of our campaigns have been completely free to join and are exactly the sort of thing we’ve wanted to put out into the world but not had capacity to do before. So, expanding has definitely given us more capacity, and more ability to push the business forward in other areas.”
BV: How has expanding the business affected you and Emily?
NJ: “It’s changed our roles. When we first worked full time on Totally Runable, Emily and I were the whole team, so we did everything; from delivery of courses to social media and bookkeeping. Expanding the team has allowed us to focus more on the things we want to and bring others in who can do those roles in a more specialist way. It’s also been invaluable to have a larger team over the last year whilst both Emily and I have had our first babies. The ability to rely on others to keep the business moving forward – and for neither of us to be left running the show alone while the other is off, has been and will continue to be a real benefit.”
BV: What have been the key changes, as a result of the expansion?
NJ: “We moved into The Business Village @BarnsleyBIC from an office in the (very small!) spare room of my house over Christmas 2016. We took on our first apprentice employee in June 2018, and then our first part time employee in September 2018. We moved into a larger office at Christmas 2017 and then an even larger office during Christmas 2018 with another two permanent staff members.”
BV: How has expansion impacted on the practical side of the business and the work you do?
NJ: “We now have a team of five, (including Emily and me) an Office Manager and four trainers, who also work across two Departments – Course Facilitation and Business Development. We’ve been able to improve our already high-quality courses and deliver more of them. This has seen Totally Runable working in more schools, across a wider geographical area. We’ve gone from working with four schools in 2017-18 to working in more than 30. In addition, our Girls and Sport Pledge impacts on more than 65 primary and secondary schools. We’re also now in a much stronger position to kick on over the next 12-18 months and impact even more girls and female school staff with the confidence-building courses and workshops we run.”
BV: So what’s next for Totally Runable?
NJ: “We’d love Totally Runable to be national, or even international one day, so expansion was always going to be a part of the plan. We’re by no means at the end of our expansion journey but the work we’ve put in over the last three years has taken us to a level we couldn’t have imagined when we were sat in the office in my space room in 2015 and 2016, so who knows where we’ll be in another few years!”
Find out more about Natalie, Emily and their fantastic team at Totally Runable by visiting their website.