With an innovative idea, a strong knowledge of the subject matter and the drive to make it happen, Simon Long had everything in place to make his start-up succeed.
With the help of an interest-free business loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, funding wasn’t a problem either.
However, when his initial business partner’s abrupt departure from the project left him needing to start from scratch, Simon’s passion and determination was put to the test; a test that with perseverance and desire, he passed with flying colours.
Simon, from Groby, talks us through his journey to date and explains how integral The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity has been in establishing his weight management app, Body Vision.
At what point did you realise you wanted to be self-employed?
I think I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and have essentially worked for myself all my working life. I’ve not really had any employees work for me and the only jobs I’d been employed in were in bars in Leicester as I was putting myself through college. Once I finished college, I set up my own business and have been self-employed since then.
Tell us more about your business and how the idea for it came to fruition…
When I was younger, I was quite overweight. I spent years following other people’s advice in trying to lose the weight, but it never seemed to stick. I could lose weight, but I couldn’t keep the weight off. I started looking at the science side of things to try and work out what the problem was. What became clear, not just for weight loss but for a lot of behaviour change, is that very few people become successful for a sustained long period of time. Most people will regress in about 12 months. Studies range from statistics showing around 20% of people are successful, whilst others will suggest only 5% are successful. This interested me, so I researched and studied for a degree. I realised that people are using the wrong approach to lose weight. I took what I’d learned and put it into practice on me and I managed to lose about a third of my body weight. I went from 92 kilos down to 62 kilos, and 31% body fat to 6.5%.
Once I achieved that, I was interested in teaching other people. I’ve been a personal trainer for a number of years, teaching the principles to individuals, but I am limited to the number of people I can see in a day. Through my dad, who works in software, I developed a real understanding of the potential software has.
I picked up a magazine and a guy wrote in asking for a dietary plan. I saw it and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s great, but it’s not applicable for everybody’. Not only that; the guy who has that dietary plan get bored of eating the same food. So, I thought, ‘What if you could teach software how to put together a dietary plan? Anybody could access one for nothing.’ It led on from there.
What challenges did you face in getting things started?
I understand how software is written, but I can’t write software myself. I initially had somebody work with me on the project for two years writing the software, but he essentially walked away from the project taking everything with him. I was really down, as I was forced to go right back to the beginning. I kept working, trying to build things up. I later found another firm to work with and we have since been able to launch the Body Vision app via Apple Store and Google Play.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to make people aware of why behavioural change is difficult, but how it can become achievable if you approach it a different way. What I offer at the moment is regular new video content, free posts and articles – and the application of course. The app provides individual, highly detailed training plans which progress with the individual. However, there are two tools within the app that are very important – a tool that allows you to build good habits from scratch and another that breaks down and reconstruct bad habits.
There’s so much more the app can do and hopefully along the line I can achieve that. However, for now, you can purchase one-on-one online coaching. When I make more money, I can code the app more and people can have everything in one place.
How did you find out about The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity?
I was working through a start-up support agency and I was simply told that there were charities that offered business investment support. I had a look at what would be suitable for me and The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity was top of the list.
How did you find the application process?
To be honest, I really enjoyed the application process. I had a very strong belief in the business; I had changed my life using what I’d learned and had been a personal trainer for a couple of years already. Of course, I was nervous when I went in to the interview with Trustees – but because I knew the business idea had legs and had done my research, I was confident.
What was your loan primarily used for?
It was used for various things. I had a bit of code sorted before I applied for the loan, but I found nobody wanted to use it because of poor user experience. A large chunk of it was used to enhance user experience so people wanted to use it. I also needed to use a designer, as I’m not a designer. Essentially it was general start-up costs to ensure I had a platform to build upon.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs; and what would you say to anybody looking to apply for an interest-free business loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity?
One piece of advice I have – be persistent. I’ve had six or seven years where I had to take steps back in order to take steps forward. By being persistent, you grow a deeper connection to your business or product and become more determined to succeed. Another thing I learned is that people will tell you you’re wrong constantly. Do your research and ensure you have a strong idea. Once you’re convinced you have a strong idea and know everything you need to know, ignore the naysayers.
Another thing, especially if you’re applying for a loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity: have a strong business plan. Not just for the application, but for you. It’ll change constantly, but to have to that clear, well-structured idea, is a massive help. If you have that, not only will it boost your chances of being approved a loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, it will also help you become successful.
The Charity is brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for their support, it would have taken me a lot longer to get to where I am now. It boosted things forward and I can’t say enough good things about them.
For more information on Body Vision, please visit body.vision or head to their Facebook page or YouTube channel.
For more information on The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free business loans, please CLICK HERE
Simon Long is an experienced personal trainer in Leicester, with a focus on behaviour change psychology to encourage sustainable fitness training plans.