Updated: Dec 10, 2018
The Box concept emerged from our will to share with others the joys and benefits that we discovered in strength and conditioning trainings. We consider it our duty, as we made the discovery quite late in our life, but it was a life changing event.
The intention with these posts is to share the challenges and joys that we face while keeping our dream alive. Probably we do not have the greatest experience in the field of gym management, but we surely do have the enthusiasm, hunger for knowledge and the will to win required to overcome any obstacle in our way. Our motto is “The stronger me” and this is both mentally and physically. What we figured out is that the best way to get stronger is cruising stormy waters. So bring it on!!!
Opening a gym probably comes right next to opening a bar, in a chart of dream jobs. This is probably because we associate the good feeling that we get in the time spent in these places. However, the truth is that there are a lot of things that hit you in your face once you really take steps towards opening a gym. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see when training and below we are talking about the 3 key elements that helped us in the early days.
As you probably know by now, behind any achievement, there is a lot of grit and work. Our project makes no exception. The work has started in early 2017 with a lot of dreams, discussions and planning. In all this time our main focus was on strategy, funding options, suitable locations and equipment - this taking a lot of our personal time as all the 3 of us were still working in other places at the time.
In the end after 2 months delay, we managed to greet the first The Box Community member in the gym on the 27th of August 2018. So yes, it took 16 months.
Now looking back, I consider there were 3 key points that helped us to keep going and to finally open the door:
1. A stated mission.
Having a mission is not something only for 1000+ employees companies, it’s even more critical for startups. Having a mission guided us to take the right decisions for The Box. Our declared mission is to change the percentage of people who are physically inactive in Romania. That’s why we have declared War on sedentarism. Every time we had a question whether something was good for us or not, we went back to the mission and checked if it complies with it. Basically, the mission was the foundation of everything we have started to build.
Q: Should we hire someone?
Went back to: does he/she understand where we want to go? Will he/she help towards that direction?
Q: Should we partner up with Electric Castle even this implies extra costs, and the people there are not necessarily our target as most of them are not from our city?
It was a Yes, because it is our mission to make them become more active.
2. Right people.
One of our strongest assets is the blend of skills and experience. I cannot stress out enough how important is to surround yourself by the right people.
And this comes from multiple perspectives:
As an entrepreneur you need to have the best product on the market which translates into best training programs. This implies that you need to focus a lot on the sports side of the business.
In the same time as a gym owner you need to bring people in the gym which means sales, events & marketing. Moreover you need to make sure you manage the finances and legal demands in a way that keeps the business going.
There are lots of hats that need to be warn by the same person. On this, Chris Cooper recommends in his book Two Brain Business to have 70 % focus on business and 30% focus on sport.
Therefore you need to bring together a team and this takes us to another great challenge: Conflicts.
In order to keep the team going you need to make sure that your partners/colleagues have the emotional intelligence to get over these and keep in mind what is best for the business.
Our luck was that we managed to get the ingredients without even thinking at this. Dani and I are looking on the business side: marketing, sales, finances, events, legal etc while Bogdan is 100% focused on training programs, knowledge development and client objectives.
When looking for a team always trust your instincts and before looking at the skills that one has, look at how he would fit your team and your mission.
3. Have patience and never stop believing
Probably most important of them all 😊
The world wasn’t built in a day, so neither is your gym. Don’t kill yourself trying to do everything today. Give yourself the time to be creative and to deliberate on the right decisions.
A good personal example for this was finding the right venue for The Box. Our deadline was imposed by the financing project that had to be implemented within a year. The real estate market in Cluj is not the friendliest one, but which one is? You have few spaces available, owners not very willing to help or negotiate and a price that scares even mature businesses...
The characteristics that we took into consideration where:
· Location – number of inhabitants living/working close by and accessibility
· Number of parking lots
· Structure of the building – large open space with 4-7m height
· Noise ‘friendly’ area
4 months before the deadline, we found a suitable place, we loved it and after 2 months of negotiations and delays we have agreed to sign a contract with the land lord that guaranteed right in the beginning that noise will not be a problem.
Our luck was that right before signing the contract we insisted to do a sound test to make sure that there will not be any problems with the neighbours. We did a clean and jerk with 70 Kg and dropped the bar. The vibration was felt 4 floors above.
So with 1 month to go we had no location and the entire project was at danger.
In general, if you find the strength to keep going, in the end everything adds up, this is exactly what happened in our case as well. 2 weeks later we found a venue in a better location, with a better structure, with more parking slots and no neighbours. The contract was signed in 2 days and the story has started.