So, Corner Shop Gym turned 1 yesterday which for me was a big deal! While I have been self employed for over 3 years now and have had other businesses reach and surpass this milestone none have felt as significant as this one so I chose to acknowledge and celebrate it!
The Story of #CSG
For those who do not know I was already acting as a self employed consultant and trainer in the leisure space but was focused more so on my corporate clients. The idea for Corner Shop Gym had been percolating for months in my head and initially it was supposed to be a complete training course for fitness professionals ready to step onto the management ladder or for those who wanted to leave employment and open their own business. I realised however that my passion for compliance and a belief in “doing things the right way” did not always translate and that perhaps, in the absence of legislation enforcing this training, that many would not feel the need to complete my comprehensive syllabus of industry specific health and safety, marketing and management skills training in order to excel at the next level. Also, I realised that participants may not need to access each module I had developed. I agonised over this for hours, weeks months… and really in my true perfectionist style I delayed doing anything in fear of it not being just right. Then came whispers of an impending copycat competitor which spurred me into action for fear of loosing my unique and niche business idea that I had poured so much thought into. And so, what started out as an idea for an individual programme called Corner Shop Gym rapidly became a business offering individual modules or workshops as required. As I tried to claim my “first mover advantage” the business idea grew legs – getting it’s own logo, avatar, website and social media accounts. Before I knew it I was operating two similar businesses each with very different brands and approaches – one quite corporate and professional, the other a lot friendlier and seemingly more accessible.
Its not all roses, and I think in business it’s important to be honest rather than to pretend everything you do and touch just happens to be a major success as lets be honest – thats just not possible! Truth be told this time last year I was feeling a little disillusioned and frightened as I had taken a bit of a risk (albeit what I then thought was a calculated risk) by spending pretty much the bulk of my 2014 marketing budget on a 2 day exhibition in the RDS to launch CSG to the market. This exhibition was targeted at our specific prospective customers so it made sense. It was not the cheapest of events but it was in a great location and after extensive research the potential seemed huge. Alas, It didn’t work; over the whole weekend I made one sale of €50 and managed to get only a handful of leads for my prospect database. I made the most of it though and in the absence of prospects I networked with other suppliers (2 of whom became clients and other who have introduced me to some fantastic new opportunities) and I also got some great photos to use for marketing. I realised now that my attitude was going to be even more pivotal in making CSG a success and that I really needed to get over myself and my dislike of limelight so I could put CSG out there and get it on the map.
With this realisation and a healthy dose of fear I pushed my brand forward and within a month of launching I was selected as the #StarBiz for IrishBizParty on Twitter (we trended no 1 in Ireland) and had an article published in the Irish Independant online (read it here) which really is a pretty awesome start!! CSG was then awarded a #WOW award on Twitter from Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Anne Summers, was named #QueenOf Gyms from @ADG_IQ as well as winning #BritishStarBiz and also being shortlisted and making the final cut for Best Blog Post Ireland 2014.
Enough about that though, I guess the reason I am feeling this milestone more than any others is because the outlook felt a little bleak this time one year ago. I have since learned that fear can be good if you harness it in the right way, I realise now that in business its more about 80% hard work and 20% self promotion than just 100% hard work and no one knowing who you are or what you are doing! I also learned the importance of getting something out there and refining as you go with client feedback in mind rather than trying to get it perfect from the get go behind a closed door. I also realised that my hyper self criticism was actually unhealthy for me and in turn my business so committed to improve this. As part of this commitment I now like to celebrate my successes, however little or insignificant and chalk down the negatives as experience on this wonderful journey.
All of these lessons and changes, combined with my experience, have contributed massively to where the business is at today so if any of the above story strikes a chord with you – take time to reflect and review.