A former finance professional has turned her back on her long career in finance to pursue a new business venture which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of her local community thanks to the Go For It Programme, in association with Belfast City Council.
Jackie McWilliams has turned her passion for wellness into a career, following the realisation that sedentary lifestyles, especially those found commonly in desk-based jobs, can have a detrimental impact on our long term health and wellbeing.
Jackie discovered that her working environment may have had an effect on her health and wellbeing. Following extensive research and training, Jackie set up Active Wellness to spread the message and assist others in her position.
Active Wellness is based in East Belfast and, for corporate clients, can provide a range of therapeutic massage treatments, self-care tips and yoga within the workplace. Also on offer is a selection of holistic services and treatments including sports massage, therapeutic massage and yoga.
Jackie said, “I worked in finance and sat at my desk for most of the day, meaning that I was becoming very inactive. I started to have lots of aches and pains and wasn’t sure why. I began to do my research and found that massage and mobility exercises would help get my body moving and alleviate any niggles and pains that I might have been having.”
“After a couple of massage sessions, I really started to feel the benefits, mentally and physically, and was raving to everyone about the positive difference it was making to all aspects of my life.”
“I got thinking that quite a few of my friends and family were also suffering from aches and pains caused by their day job, as well as stress-related illness, and wanted to explore opportunities to help them and their employers.”
“I completed my massage training and that was that- I had caught the bug and just wanted to know more. I was amazed at how much better I was feeling and really wanted to share all my new found knowledge to help others, that’s where the Go For It Programme came in.”
After leaving her long term career in finance, Jackie had the idea, but was unsure how she could make it function as a viable business to replace her former career. That is when she contacted the Go For It Programme to seek professional advice and support in developing a detailed business plan to assist her in turning her idea into a reality.
“I attended an information session, organised by my local council and found out more about the Go For It Programme there. I then filled in the enquiry form online and got speaking to my business advisor at East Belfast Enterprise the next day, it was all very quick.”
“I knew what I wanted to do, but I was unsure about how I could start and grow my team, find suitable premises and market Active Wellness to the right people. The advice I received was second to none. It was all really clear and practical and really helped me to focus my idea and develop a clear strategy for growth.”
I filled in the enquiry form online and got speaking to my business advisor at East Belfast Enterprise the next day, it was all very quick
“We put everything into a very comprehensive business plan, which I now treat as my business bible, it signposts me to where I need to go and how I’m going to get there. The process of writing the business plan made me query the finer details of my business and really allowed me to see its future potential.”
The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
Robbie Jamison, Business Advisor, East Belfast Enterprise for Belfast City Council, said, “I was delighted to assist Jackie in the start-up stage of her business. Her passion for helping others to make their health and wellbeing a priority is infectious. Jackie had a clear vision of what she wanted Active Wellness to be, she just needed our support in ironing out the finer details.
“We assisted Jackie in the development of her business plan, fine-tuning the details which were specific to her business including, insurances, premises and the detail around staffing requirements. We also completed a full financial forecast, which allowed us to determine the viability and growth potential for the business.”
“It is fantastic to see Active Wellness now open for business and starting to grow. Jackie was determined to grow her team and expand her business offering from the beginning, so I expect to see big things from Jackie in the not too distant future.”