Showcasing early entrepreneurs has a twofold purpose. One is to offer an added marketing communications or social media element to help promote their businesses. The second is to provide a forum through which they can guide other aspiring business owners around avoidable obstacles and toward a path of attainable goals. Sharing insights starts with hearing their stories firsthand beginning with a conversation with
Lisa Shanahan, owner of Fitness Together in Barrington, Illinois
http://www.fitnesstogetherbarrington.com/ – (847) 304-0505
While my early career was in personal fitness and training, what motivated me to choose it as a life-long business was my own mother’s passing away at the prime age of 50 from a heart attack. So, when the opportunity came along to purchase a Fitness Together franchise, I took advantage of it. Working intimately with a client base of 200 was more appealing to me over the traditional 15,000-member health club.
Fitness Together is different in that it not only offers private, one-on-one training, it adds personal accountability to fitness and nutrition. We are one of the few truly private training studios. We provide private suites for client and trainer. Many people are uncomfortable with their weight so privacy becomes a big factor. At the same time, we stress goal setting, follow-up and accountability. Clients are able to tap into our online nutrition program that offers sample meal planning to get them started with healthy menus. They key in their food intake each day and are then graded on their protein and carb totals to help them stay on track. We also offer full fitness assessments and retest our clients every six weeks to make sure their personal goals are met. Our strong focus is on achieving goals.
Our target audience is made up primarily of women between 30 and 65 with disposable incomes who truly believe that their health is important. However, today, many people outside that range are realizing the importance of health and fitness and are willing to spend money on both. Ultimately, we’re perfect for those who say "I’m sick and tired of being overweight and having no energy. I’ve been putting everyone else first, now it’s time to take care of me." I've also been partnering with chiropractors and doctors for referrals. When people require the next level of therapy we can take them to it. The same holds for cardiac patients. Our studio is a great supervised environment for heart patient rehab.
We’ve tried advertising in all the coupon magazines which took up a lot of funding. Other marketing efforts included direct mailings and ads in local publications – some of which offer the opportunity to write your own article to accompany purchased advertising. I’ve got a lot of ideas to market the business, but I need to find what works best in my area.
Like all new entrepreneurs, I was excited about the venture in October 2007 and wanted to open quickly. As a result, I was a little too hasty in selecting a location for the studio. I leased space in a building before it was built and put my trust in people that – in looking back – I shouldn’t have. For a variety of reasons, the building wasn’t finished until a year later in late 2008. Naturally, the economic climate didn’t help matters either as far as gaining clients.
My advice to other potential entrepreneurs is this:
· Really think through the whole concept before making your decision
· Know that it will be a lot of stressful work
· Don’t expect profits your first year or two
· Be patient because in the end your dream will be rewarding
Lastly, I was truly surprised to learn that most people weren't setting health and fitness as a priority in their lives. I am in the business of changing that mindset – one fit and healthy lifestyle at a time.