The number on question people ask me about my experience as entrepreneur is “How did you get started?” then there are a bunch of follow-up questions like …”Did you have a clear vision?” “Did you have a business plan?” “Did you have investors?” And the answers are No, No and No. I’m a big believer in the power of momentum…..once you get moving in a direction that energizes you, it’s hard stop. And while you’re moving forward, you start attracting amazing opportunities. Or at least this was the case for me. Let me shed some light on what I believe to be the 5 key steps for bringing a business idea to life. (Warning: None of the steps require writing a business plan.)
So a little bit of background, I was a pretty risk averse person and I played it by the book throughout my 20’s… graduated from college, spent two years in HR at Texas Instruments, earned an MBA, then joined a Big 4 consulting firm. Overall life was good, but deep down I knew something was missing. While I was grateful for the stable salary, opportunity to travel and exposure to complex corporate challenges, something inside of me was not satisfied. I’ve never considered myself a “creative” person, but I had a deep desire to “make new stuff” and lead people and feel excited about my work, and I wasn’t getting that. During that time, I was also struggling with my weight as I had to travel to a different state or country every week, Monday through Thursday. So eating healthy was a challenge. I started taking Turbo Kick classes at 24 Hour Fitness and they were so freakin’ fun! I got really into it, loved the way I felt after class, and thought it would be fun to sign up for instructor training just so I could get better at the moves. So one weekend, I paid the $189 fee and spent a Saturday learning how to teach Turbo Kick class (the best decision of my life). And this leads me to STEP #1: Follow what energizes you. Never in a million years did I ever think I would ever start a fitness company. After all, I was chunky kid and my childhood dream was to be a talk show host. BUT, I really enjoyed these group fitness classes. They were a hobby. They were challenging. They excited me and I didn’t mind working really hard and really long to get good at them. I love this quote form Mark Cuban, “If you really want to know where your destiny lies, look at where you apply your time.” I realized I was spending more of my free time planning workouts rather than working on client decks….very telling. At that point, I knew I wanted to start some sort of fitness venture, but I didn’t know what it would look like.
While, discovering something that energizes you is super exciting, it still takes lots of hours to develop the craft and become great at it. As a former collegiate athlete this principle is engrained in me and I know that I have to practice a ton if I want to be great at anything. If I was serious about starting a fitness company, I was going to have to develop a rigorous routine to develop the skills required to do so. STEP #2: Start Developing The Skills You Need To Succeed. At that point I got a part-time job (side hustle) at 24 Hour Fitness teaching at least 1 class per week. I knew I couldn’t start a group fitness company unless I was a badass fitness instructor. I also started this blog because I knew that I needed to develop some marketing skills (of which I had none). Blogging gave me hands on experience with social media and free marking tools. It also gave me a therapeutic outlet to share my story in a very authentic way. Blogging changed my life. For realz. For 2 years I maintained the side hustle of teaching fitness classes and blogging, in addition to working full time in management consulting. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I had a lot to juggle. But my side hustle pumped me up so much that I didn’t mind staying up late and working all weekend to keep my blog updated and prep for fitness classes. The skills I developed during this time prepared me to excel in leading my business, before I even started my business.
So now I was rolling! During this time, my blog was growing and getting recognition from PopSugar and Greatist. My classes at 24 Hour Fitness were packed. I was feelin’ myself! BUT, I wasn’t making any “real money”… I had a hobby… I didn’t have a business… I wanted to start a business so I could work in fitness full-time and quit my “real job!” But I had a ton of business ideas and was feeling overwhelmed. From apps, to class formats, to video series – ah!!!!! Many of you can probably relate with me at this point… so you have a “passion” or a business idea or an interest in something but you don’t know what to do with it. You spend countless hours discussing it with our friends, journaling, thinking about everything that could go wrong, etc. Then you get overwhelmed with all of these thoughts and say, “screw it” someone else is probably already working on this and 5 steps ahead of me. I get it. I’ve been there. This was me. But the best thing you can do at this point, is JUST MAKE SOMETHING ALREADY (STEP 3). I made workout DVD (GRIT Ultimate Body Burn). There’s so much power in simply keeping the ball rolling. Your product or service doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to reflect you! AND you need the experience of creating something from nothing. Creating my workout DVD gave me a new level of confidence that I could take and idea and bring it life. It also polished my project management skills and collaboration skills. And it was just fun. So if you’re mulling around in the “idea phase” stop thinking and start doing!
Once you’ve created something, you’ve got to find like-minded people who LOVE IT! Notice I didn’t say you need spend tons of money on mass marketing. That’s not a good look. You just need to find people who are already on board with what you’re doing and educate them! Remember, momentum is everything! Give them free samples, throw a party and buy their drinks share your story with them. STEP 4: Find Your Tribe and Energize Them! A highly engaged tribe of people who love your product/service are the most valuable asset your business will ever have. During my 2 years of side hustlin’, I was teaching FREE classes at the W Hotel every single weekend. I would post free workouts on my blog every single week. I was energizing and investing in my tribe. If you show people that you genuinely love them and are passionate and committed to a common purpose, they will be your biggest advocates and all of the marketing you need. Find the RIGHT people, love them and keep them excited!
Now that you’ve got ball rolling, just keep it rolling! Once you stop, it’s so much harder to restart. STEP 5: Never quit, never ever give up. Sure there are obstacles and setbacks and bad days, but hopefully you absolutely love what you’re doing and you’re enjoying the process. I’m a big believer that if you’re committed to a positive cause, consistently improving and growing and strengthening your tribe, your business simply CANNOT fail. It’s actually impossible….as long as you don’t quit! The opportunity to open the first GRIT Fitness studio literally fell in my lap. A student in my Turbo Kick class at 24 Hour Fitness has a son who was looking for someone to share his commercial space in Downtown Dallas to run fitness classes. Seriously?!?! GRIT Fitness was developed out of a side-hustle, a 30 minute workout DVD and this blog. But the energy and momentum from years of smaller efforts are what has grown us to a business led by 50 fabulous women serving over 3,000 clients. Never underestimate the magic of simply moving forward.