Maya Haiman-Eilon is a mum of three and co-founder of Pilates on Demand Ltd.
What is your business and when did you launch it?
Pilates on Demand www.pilatesOD.com is Europe’s leading Pilates website where you can enjoy unlimited access to a fantastic variety of video classes and workouts. For a fraction of the cost of a studio class, and taught by some of the world’s best teachers, our classes are steamed directly to your PC or mobile devices – ready when you are, anywhere, anytime. We have over 200 classes from beginners to advanced, 10 to 60 minutes and specialised fitness and rehabilitation programs and special sections for pregnancy and postnatal Pilates. With an ever-growing library of workouts you can always find something new to keep your fitness routine fresh and exciting.
The business was launched in September 2012.
What made you want to start this particular business?
Pilates has been a passion for over 15 years but since becoming a mother of three, I found it increasingly difficult to get to classes and keep fit and healthy. I tried a couple of DVDs but got bored of them really quickly so I decided to create a platform that will solve these problems. I teamed up with my Pilates instructor and friend and together we created Pilates on Demand. We launched the site in September 2012 with a goal of offering unlimited, affordable and easy access to a wide range of top quality videos that everyone, at any level, can enjoy.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
I think that first and foremost you need to believe in your product or service and for your idea to be organic to you. It has a good chance of succeeding if it answers a need or problem that affected your life because it means you understand your market and know what they really need and want. I think you need a lot of determination and a positive disposition because starting a business can have quite a few low points and you need to be able to get through this and carry on. For me as well as loving Pilates I love the business side of things. I find it exciting to think of ways to grow the business and sometimes look at it like a game that grown-ups play, in which the reward id real money
As a mum, do you have any tips for dealing with the struggles of balancing work and family life?
I think that having your own business is the way forward for women today. The landscape of work and family has changed massively from my mother’s generation to mine, and that it will change further for my children. My mother was a housewife and although it was great to have her at home, looking back, I feel that she didn’t fulfill her potential. I would like my children to look at me and see a good, loving, present mother but also an independent woman who has financial freedom, energy and initiative to take charge of her life. I would like them to learn to have ideas and follow them up, to try and not be afraid of failing, to take some risks and most importantly to go for a lifestyle that makes them happy! I like that I can take a real part in their life especially when they are young. I can decide to go on a school trip and work in the evening instead.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
The processes of setting up the business and the two and a half years since launch have been a steep learning curve. I learnt so much about forecasting, budgeting, cash flow, and everything else that is required to run a successful business. There are many things that surprised me about the way things developed in the business and one of the important lessons i learnt was to be open-minded to some new directions that the business might take. Not to be worried about sticking religiously to your original plan but be flexible and make changes when they are needed.
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and so in the past I worked as a freelance designer (which is what I studied), owned a children’s fashion label with a friend and I am also a qualified NCT postnatal leader, running groups for new mums in London. I firmly believe that creativity is a major driving force in business and have always felt that my training and background in creative thinking helped me push my business forward and think ‘out of the box’ when needed. My training as a designer also has practical benefits for my business. I created our branding and website and am in charge of these areas of the business including developing our offering and creating our marketing materials. My family plays a huge role in my life and has great influence over my work. My husband is my greatest supporter both emotionally and practically with his extensive experience in online marketing through his job. I have three gorgeous children (9, 7 and 2), which I am extremely grateful for. I believe that becoming a mum has made me a better businesswoman. Being a mum requires so many skills that are transferable to business: multi-tasking, time management, patience, quick decision-making, communication and emotional intelligence are just a few of the skills that I used in a business context and feel I had improved on since becoming a mum. I tell my children a lot about what I do and they also hear me discussing work with my husband and partners. Children have such creative and open minds and I am often amazed at the insight they have without being aware of it.
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
- Believe in yourself and be positive
- Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your business and ideas all the time
- Listen to feedback and don’t take it personally – feedback from people is a great tool if you are open to it.
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times?
Every business faces challenged and especially in the first 3 years of its life. My business is no different. We have had IT issues with the first company we chose to build the website who let us down and didn’t deliver what we asked for. Consequently we lost a considerable sum of money, which was very difficult. I am lucky to have partners to work with and we lift each other up when there are low times. You can’t expect a business not to have any problems and the secret is to move on and learn from mistakes.
What have been the ups and downs of creating and running a business with two business partners … and what advice would you give to someone who is setting up with a business partner?
I absolutely love having partners and don’t think I could have set-up a business on my own. I enjoy the exchange of ideas and opinions as well as the fact that there is always someone to lean on and to share work and responsibility.
This is my second business with partners and there are a few things that can make a partnership successful in my opinion:
- Honesty – always say what you think and talk about things openly and honestly
- Use each other’s strengths and cover for the others’ weaknesses
- Have fun together – you need to like your partners and enjoy working with them.
Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?
Of course there are some things along they way I would have done differently but then I wouldn’t learn from mistakes, which is invaluable in my opinion. I feel that at the moment we made more good decisions than bad ones and I hope this balance stays that way.
What are your plans for the future?
The future for the business is looking really bright. We are already benefiting from the developments in technologies such as faster broadband, streaming and constant progress in the use of mobile devices. People now expect to be able to use their computers and mobile devices to watch what they want when they want it – and the same goes for exercise and fitness. I feel that the business in its current position is really well placed to take advantage of these developments. We are planning to continue to grow the business and expand into new areas.