Sarah Hill is a swimming coach specialising in working with adults and is the only qualified Total Immersion coach in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside.
Until 2008, like many people Sarah struggled for years to learn to swim front crawl for any distance without becoming exhausted. This changed when she discovered the Total Immersion technique, a revolutionary approach to learning to swim with ease for adults of all ages and fitness levels, and she started her business Swimmingly to pass on the guidance that helped her to become the swimmer she is today.
Sarah joined the EnterprisingYou programme following a recommendation from her partner to take her business to the next level. We caught up with her to find out how the support has helped her so far.
Why did you want to start your own business?
I’ve always loved swimming and whilst I was a decent swimmer, I relearned to swim 15 years ago using a revolutionary step by step approach and the experience transformed my swimming, and ultimately my life too. I wanted to share what I learned as widely as possible to have a real impact on as many lives as possible, so I trained as a coach and ultimately left my job and set up Swimmingly in 2017.
I wanted to start my business because I saw how many people struggle to learn to swim. There was a clear need for friendly, accessible swimming lessons that used a different approach from the traditional lessons that people often find difficult. It proved very difficult to hire the pool space I needed for lessons and so I invested in building a small pool in a log cabin in my garden, it was a bit of a risk financially but luckily has paid off.
What services does Swimmingly provide?
Our services are unique - we provide private 1:1 and small group swimming lessons for adults of all swimming abilities and aspirations who want to quickly and easily learn how to swim without feeling stressed, breathless or exhausted so they can enjoy every stroke, even if they don’t have youth or fitness on their side.
We work with total beginners, stroke improvers, triathletes and competitive swimmers. We also specialise in helping people with a water phobia to quickly and easily learn to become comfortable in the water in as little as 60 minutes even if they’ve been trying for years.
How did you find out about the EnterprisingYou programme, and how has it helped your business so far?
My partner runs his own business and took part in EnterprisingYou, he suggested it might be helpful for me.
My main support from the programme has been around accountability. As a one-woman band with a couple of part-time teachers the number of tasks can often feel overwhelming and difficult to prioritise.
My business coach’s support enabled me to identify and focus on the most important tasks and be held accountable for actually getting them done! We developed a plan that was straightforward to implement with tasks clearly prioritised and with his support I was able to stay on track and get the jobs done!
I was also able to tap in to help around marketing which has proved invaluable too. I’ve learnt to market my business more effectively and to prioritise and plan more effectively which means everything runs more efficiently and frees up my time for doing the job that I love - teaching swimming.
What’s next for your business?
I am currently expanding our services for people with a water phobia; one in four people have some degree of water phobia and there is very little effective support available. I’m about to offer my first water confidence retreat day and I’ve recently launched an online water confidence course with the aim of reaching people who are not able to come to me for a lesson. I’m working in partnership with a local hotel to provide practice facilities for clients and am looking at recruiting and training a water phobia specific teacher to help develop the service.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
Do your research, make sure you totally understand who your potential clients are and what they want, it’s probably not the same as what you think they need! Don’t try and do everything yourself, get as much help as you can and focus on the things you do well. Where you can, pay other people to do the stuff that you struggle with, it may feel like an extravagance but it’s really an investment and will save you so much time, effort and frustration. Automate as much as you can, it will save you days of work!