Monday, 16 April 2018

5-years in business: Lessons

This past Friday, April 13th was the 5-year anniversary of Living Energy.  In some ways, it's seemed to fly by, and in others it seems longer.  Here's a few things I've learned as Owner & Fitness Coach at my studio over the past 5-years that I can take with me moving forward.... 

Clients make the business

Rob Waite (owner of All Access Music) and his son, Adam
working out at the old studio. 
I think this really started to become ingrained in me about 11-years ago (which was 4-5 years into my post-college career).  Since opening Living Energy, my priority has always been my clients.  Every day my goal is always to be a positive part of their day.  Make them feel good. Make it known that they're important.  Because they deserve it and they are.  I've prided myself on client retention and focusing on what/who I have, rather than constantly seeking new clients. It makes sense. It works.  And the relationships you develop in the process are fantastic!  Sometimes a client is in need of a "therapy session" and just need to get things off their chest (in a place they know it will stay) or sometimes the conversations are silly or there's good fun trash talking back and forth... Whatever the client needs, I'm happy to be able to provide a friendly ear and comfortable place they can do so.

Simple is good

I've always approached, Living Energy with simple in mind. Don't complicate things, don't bombard people with too many things... just provide a comfortable, friendly atmosphere where people can be active, learn and have fun at the same time.  A few times over those 5-years, I think I started to drift away from simplicity in the effort to "grow the business".  If it's not broke, don't fix it right?

YOU, the owner, are the only one who knows what's good for YOUR business

I learned this in my first business when I was 23yrs old, and it pops up every so often still. I mention it often when I speak to the first and second year Fitness & Health students at the college; People love to offer their advice (whether you ask for it or not), even when they have no entrepreneurial experience
themselves.  Granted, some of this advice is good and welcomed at times, but other times it's exhausting and frustrating (especially when you don't ask for it).
In addition to that, YOU (the owner) are the only person who will truly put everything they got into the business and making it work.  YOU have the most to lose. No one else.

Listen to your gut

This sort of ties in with my last point.  There have been times over the past 5-years where I have a feeling about something or that I'm not the kind of person for a particular role, and I've been caught not listening to my gut and trying it anyway.  Sure, taking a risk and trying something new is good.  But eventually, you need to listen to your gut and go with it.

Taking care of yourself SHOULD be a priority

I know more entrepreneurs who suck at this than who are good at this.  As great as my 5-years at Living Energy have been, my own health has been on the back burner and has declined quite a bit.  These 5-years have been the most unhealthiest of my career (and possibly my life). Illness, stress, and injury have set me back big time in my own fitness and health.  It's very easy to put your clients and businesses first before anything else. It's very easy to find time to do other things that are not taking care of yourself.  But (as we all learn eventually), if you don't have energy and health, you can't provide the best service possible.  Tied in with this I think is time with friends and family.  Time to just hang out, relax and have fun with those people.  It's easy to say "I'm too exhausted" or "I'm too busy" and miss out on time well spent.

New life chapters can be a good thing

Sometimes we turn the page and begin a new chapter in life, and think, "Uh-Oh!".  Other times we turn the page and get a breath of fresh air.  Over my 5-years I've done this a couple times, and it's truly turned out to be a great thing.  Things change, new chapters begin and it can often be a very good thing.

Without love and support of those close to you - it would be even tougher

Living Energy could never be possible without the love and support of many people;  my wife and kids, my parents, my in-laws and some of our good friends.  In whatever way they've lent a hand or an ear, they've helped make everything possible.  I could not be celebrating 5-years without them.

It's been a good journey so far.  I've learned things, some things have worked, some haven't... that's the joy of business ownership.  Simplicity and not losing who you are and what YOU want will always guide you in the right direction.

Thank you to all my clients, friends, family, colleagues, and supporters who have made Living Energy's first 5-years, very special!  

Where it all began.  My little 650sq ft studio. Our home for 2-years. :) 

Our current home.  It'll be 3-years this June since we expanded into this space. 

My client of 8-years, Tyler Donaldson presenting
me with a gift as we opened the current studio location;
his jersey from his last year with the Trenton Golden Hawks Jr A
Hockey team, and my first year as Fitness Coach with the team. 

Client of 8-years going on 9, Matt Loveys
(former Jr C goaltender and World Ball Hockey Gold medalist)
is a regular face at Living Energy. 

If it's not fun, it's not worth it

Our clients and friends range from young to "non-young".
This is, Faryn who's mom, Joan has been my client for
11-years! Faryn has grown up visiting a couple days
per week.  And sometimes, she offers to let me take
a well deserved nap.