You have been running your business for 2 ½ years now – How is it going?“

Things are going really well. We are just in the process of switching over to CIC, as I originally set up as a sole trader, so I want to move it on from there.We’ve now got 7 MMA fighters involved with our centre, ranging from Pro to Armature , and our Kids classes are just phenomenal now especially ju-jitsu classes which are really popular. We have gone from classes of 2’s and 3’s to classes of 25, which definitely helps pay the bills.” Neither myself or coaches draw a wage from the gym, we all give up our time freely
“Our fighters are our advertisement for us at the moment, it’s great having them involved. We’ve really touched lucky with fighters, so we are trying to get them on shows and finding them opportunities because what’s great for them and it’s great for us.”
How many staff and volunteers do you have?“We have got 4 great volunteers Adam, Damien, Paul and Anthony who offer lots of support to the centre along with our 7 fighters who not only use our gym, but help us.One of fighters w who came along initially just trying to lose some weight has a Masters so maybe wasn’t your stereotypical fighter. We got him involved in a Sambo competition (Russian Wrestling) he got silver which was a fantastic achievement after only 3 months training, and a few months later we put him in for his first ever cage fight and he did well, winning in the first round by TKO. From there we have been joined by a Pro, a semi-professional and 3 Armature fighters from other gyms who came over to us saying they preferred Team Muisin because it’s very family orientated. He liked the feel of our gym which is great.”
Have you, your staff or students had any additional Marshall Art’s achievements or accolades since we last spoke?Adam Lindop (head coach) won Bronze in Combat Sambo at Scottish Nationals 2012Yan Shi wins first cage fight on DOME MMA 2012Paul welsh is on a winning streak in MMA with 3-0-0 record in his first year 2012Anthony Roberts Achieved hi Shodan in traditional Ju-Jitsu 2013Sue King awarded associate grade ( godan) in Aiki Shin Aikido/Aiki-Jitsu 2013 Adam Lindop Bronze in Russian all round Fighting (Masters) 2013Adam Lindop made General Secretary of RAF UK Adam Lindop Gold in sport Sambo at Scottish Sambo nationals (Masters). 2013James Rogers won Silver in Combat Sambo at Scottish Sambo Nationals 2013 Matthew Pickering won Silver in Combat Sambo British open Nationals 2013Matthew Pickering won Gold in Combat Sambo at Scottish Nationals 2013 Matthew Pickering also won First Cage Fight on FCC by TKO, he is currently in training for his second MMA fight on FCC in Nov and The Presidents cup, Which will be a brilliant opportunity. The Presidents Cup is a Russian event will be held in London and be promoting the Russian sport of Sambo and will be attended by Vladimir Putin himselfSo we really looking forward to this event.
What lessons have you learned that have helped you keep your business on track?“Stepping back because sometimes we would try to do everything, and were thinking about doing all kinds of competitions that cost a lot in terms of travel, accommodation and everything else. We have learned to budget more carefully and chose events that would give us the best exposure and be best for our lads.” “I’ve also learned to work more closely with the students what they want they need and not necessarily do just what I want. I sometimes need to accommodate to their needs and fitness level, because it’s about them, not just about me and what I like.”
How important do you think it is for businesses to get support when starting, and along the way?“It’s absolutely crucial. If I hadn’t have met Francine (enterprise enabler at The Women’s Organisation) to help me with my business plan and looking forward to future, and if I hadn’t got that extra funding from Stepclever I know I wouldn’t have started. I would have still been chasing my tail. I wouldn’t have known where to start. It’s just nice to have someone sit down with you and look at if it really is viable.”
How has working with The Women’s Organisation impacted your business?“It helped me go forward. Finding I could not only get The Women’s Organisation’s £200 grant, but that I qualified for the extra Stepclever funding was just amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I had put my own money in to the business too, money that my father had left for me. I had started doing up the space with that. I realised I needed good flooring, or people wouldn’t come. I spent so much time looking at the interior and spending money on it I then realised I had forgotten the equipment. That extra funding just meant I could get everything I needed. We are now in the great position where if someone comes in off the street with nothing, no equipment of their own, they don’t need it because we’ve got everything they need here. It’s brilliant.”
Has anything else happened over the last 2 ½ years you think people should know to understand your journey?I won’t lie it’s been very hard, and at times we struggle and I felt like packing it all in ,my working hours are long, sometimes up to 12 hrs. a day, and my social life has gone out the window , but you get out what you put in, as a gym we have grown from strength to strength we are a family orientated gym with fighters, “We’ve now got a caged area our gym which is fantastic because we have a lot of fighters. It set us back a lot, but if I hadn’t have done it the business wouldn’t have grown, I know we wouldn’t have the 7 fighters that we have got.” “We’ve constantly changed and adapted. I remember when we first opened a lad came in and said “I’ve got a fight can you train me?” We trained him for 3 months for his fight and he got fight of the night which was great. And since then our kids classes have just grown phenomenally. Now we have that base of kids and we have the fighters who are really family orientated, they feel close and support each other. I think that’s what makes us different. We’re very family orientated and easy going. A lot of other gyms sign you in to a 12 month contract and are very rigid. We try to be flexible offering pay as you go or pay monthly options. And the atmosphere is great, you can relax while you are training. Our fighters help and support beginners as well as train themselves.”
The Channel 4 piece you were involved in focussed on unemployment amongst women. What was your experience of being out of work?
“I have worked since I was 17 so for me to come out of work was really difficult. I was supposed to go into another job which fell through and I was really disheartened. While I was working, confidence wise I was great because I was a buyer, assistant manager, I had a lot of confidence. But being out of work my self-esteem just went to rock bottom. When my father passed away and left me a bit of money I thought I’m going to do something I’m passionate about.” “I personally think it is harder for women trying to find work, especially in my field. You don’t get taken seriously by certain promoters. I’m lucky, our fighters are great and do take me seriously and respect my experience.” “If I hadn’t have set up my own business I honestly think I would have still been unemployed. I was in retail for so long when I would go for jobs people would say I was too experienced for basic sales assistant jobs. They thought I would get bored and move on. My track record showed I was faithful to businesses and stayed there for a number of years, but it didn’t seem to matter. Without this I genuinely think I would still be unemployed and I think I would have been at rock bottom.” “I’d like to thank all the coaches who give up their free time to help me in my business. Damon, Carl, Adam, Anthony and all the fighters who help out, Matthew, James, Kharled and Cath and our Sponsors Evolution Fight wear