10 Things I've Learned in My First Year Running a Business (Part 1)
Cyclebar Roseville (our indoor cycling studio) opened in May of 2017 and my dad, stepmom, and I were running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to make the business open flawlessly. TBH there were so many issues when we first opened… like that one time the supply closet shelf and all of the supplies on it fell on top of my stepmom while she was in there organizing. Or how about that time the water dispenser went haywire and sprayed water all over the ground like a fire hydrant the night before grand opening? And we freaked out and didn’t know how to stop it? Or how about when my dad just forgot to pay the power bill and we had to call the city to come and unlock our power switch? Seriously, so many things I look back on and think to myself ‘If only I had known’. But that’s why I’m sharing these lessons.
I have been given the incredible opportunity to run a business at a young age and want to use this experience to empower other women to believe in themselves and take risks on their dreams. The struggle, lack of sleep, anxiety ridden nights, and overall exhaustion #hustle #grind were all worth it now that we have a thriving community that we love dearly.
I have learned a lot and I am sure I will be learning a lot more in the years to come. So here are my top 10 things I have learned running a business (Part 1 of 2).
Company culture is everything
When we first opened Cyclebar I thought someone’s resume was the most important thing to look at. The major problem here is a resume cannot show you someone’s core values. Just look at online dating… how many times have you read a Tinder profile and thought ‘WOW this person is a catch’ and meet them in person to find out they belong in a toolshed? (…because they are a tool, if you didn’t catch that one). I’ve learned that it’s more important to find people who match your companies core values first, and their resume can come second. For example, Cyclebar is a customer service oriented business where we treat everyone who walks through the door like our friend wether it’s their first time riding or their 100th time. If I hired people who did not value family or friendships, they would not care about this critical component of our business and would fail at giving the rider the experience they deserve. So when hiring, examine core values first. The resume can be an afterthought.
The way you treat your employees will translate to your customer experience
Through reading up on management styles I’ve learned that a lot of business owners fail to realize that the way they treat their staff sets the tone for the way staff will treat clients or customers. If I walked into Cyclebar everyday with no smile on, said nothing to anyone, and went straight to my computer to get working, how do you think those staff members would start treating your customers or each other? Not great, right? I make it a point to leave behind any personal issues when I walk into my business and treat my staff the way I would want to be treated. I also just genuinely enjoy connecting with them (goes back to matching up with the company’s core values) so this attitude is not difficult to maintain day over day. And I can see it reflect in our customers reviews online, we have never once gotten a complaint about our staff. On the contrary they get mentioned multiple times in online reviews that they gave an incredible experience and made people feel at home. It’s not rocket science. If you are in a leadership role in your company or business, the way you treat people will be mirrored to your customers. Lead by example.
It’s not enough to just ‘open your doors’
Remember that saying ‘if you build it, they will come'?’. Well that sounds great in theory and our marketing budget would be a lot smaller if that were true, but it’s simply not the case for our industry (an a lot of other industries). You cannot expect people to just happen upon your business. You need to be out in the community gaining exposure, you need to be asking your raving fans for referrals, and you need to be loud and proud about your business to everyone! And you need to establish partnerships with complimentary businesses. If you expect to open a shop and be bursting at the seams with customers right out of the gate I hope you take payment via reality checks. *zing
Franchising is a great option if you lack experience
THIS. I cannot express enough how thankful I am that we went with a franchise when we opened. I lacked experience as a manager, lacked experience in the fitness world, lacked experience in EVERYTHING. Did that stop me? No. But I am so glad to have the support of a bigger corporation when it comes to the biggest and smallest things. Questions like ‘When do we order the speakers’ or ‘How do we install the software’ or even ‘How do I pull this report in MindBody’ were all answered by a team of people who had helped multiple Cyclebar’s open before. They knew my questions before I did and equipped me with so much knowledge before opening our doors. It’s an expensive option, but worth it if you lack the experience to confidently start your own business from the ground up.
Always come back to your ‘Why’
Despite having the support of a corporate team and a rockstar staff in our studio, I still get burnt out from time to time. I will have nights where I go to bed and cannot fall asleep because my brain is running through everything I need to do tomorrow, and mornings where I wake up overwhelmed with the pressure of running this studio and not losing my mind over trivial details. In these moments of anxiety, I come back to the fact that a) I am lucky to have this opportunity and b) I am working with purpose. I never opened Cyclebar with the intention of making a million dollars and walking away. I opened Cyclebar because I wanted to have a positive impact on my community and my values aligned with what the brand stood for (empowerment, body inclusivity, confidence, self love, etc). I come back to my ‘Why’ regularly. And when I am so overwhelmed that I forget my ‘why’, I spend a few minutes with riders and feel their joy to be working out at Cyclebar and it reminds me what this is all about.
So start your business with a ‘Why’ and come back to that reason frequently if you are experiencing frustration or burnout.
If your ‘Why’ is strong enough you will make it work and find the energy to show up for your business.
And that’s part 1 of my Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year Running a Business! I hope you enjoyed it and I want to know, what questions do you have about running a business? Or a cycling studio? Or what tips would YOU give other business owners? Tell me in the comments so I can include your questions or advice in my upcoming pieces.
If you want to see part two, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and you will be the first to know when it comes out.
Thanks for reading,