Small businesses help to balance the recession because we can find niches, grow and even hire employees in tough times to help fill the gaps left by large corporate layoffs. We also have tighter knit work families and less demand for profits than public companies so we can lead more with our heart and share the struggle with our employees vs make harsh cuts to retain a big profit and personal salary.
What was it that inspired you to start your small business?
My parents both started their own small businesses when I was growing up and I saw the flexibility in lifestyle and control it gave them to pursue their interests and express their creativity. So in high school I started a service business with my friend and experienced a taste of that which allowed us to pay for and take time off to travel to europe for part of our summer. After that I was sold.
What are the core values of your business?
I deeply believe that companies need to work to determine the principles that govern their culture and decision making. For Fusion Cross-training a few of those principles are: "Give more to Get more", "Clear, Honest, Break Through Communication", "Personally Connect"
What was the moment you realized your business was a success?
To be honest I think it happened just this week when almost every group cross-training session on our schedule completely booked two days in advance. In addition, several of my staff stepped up to take on new responsibilities that will free me up to focus on growing the company. When we started a few years ago, I went through agonizing months praying people would show up, which made it difficult to truly believe this day would come. Entrepreneurship requires a warrior's mentality.
Have you had to reinvent any old processes or procedures to cope with these changing times?
With help from a partner and friend we revamped how we deal with prospective fitness clients from a "just come workout whenever" laid back approach to a more structured "workout appointment and private consultation" process to help drive our sales conversion from 25% to 50%. This way we get more time with clients on their 1st visit and can really make the connection between what they are looking for as individuals and what we provide. In fitness people need the education and a little extra push to commit to themselves as we aren't selling beer and chocolate.
Are there any secret tips or tricks you’ve invented to gain an edge?
Our training studios follow my heart.muscle.mind philosophy and I always intuitively knew that it would be the intangible relationships and mental/emotional elements to our program and coaching that would make the difference and it has. People can copy the mechanics of what we do and they already tried and failed 30 days after we opened, but they will never be able to copy how we do it, and that makes all the difference.
What advice or tips do you have for other small business owners as they work to emerge from the recession?
What I have learned and am working to implement is that you should not spend all your time "doing" everything in the operations, but rather find and develop the right employees and partners that can do the job as good or better than you because of their talents and focus on a specific area. Growth can only happen via people and replication of high quality and there is only 1 or 2 owners so offer opportunities, train with patience and manage the results.