What is your definition of a successful business?
For me, a successful business is a profitable commercial enterprise that can work with or without the owner if the owner chooses not to work in it. Before Tanya and I sold our first franchise, we wanted to test the quality of the infrastructure we had created by stepping away from the business for 3 months to see how it would run without us there and our staff just relying on the technology and manuals we created.Our business flourished and set new records for us at the time.
How did you initially secure funding for the business?
Truthfully, this wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped. At 22, Tanya and I went into the bank to request a $10,000 personal loan so we could purchase two Pilates reformers and pre-pay a few weeks of rent upfront to help us secure a studio space in Hawthorne. We didn’t have any money or assets at the time so we weren’t approved but we wholeheartedly believed in what we were doing so much that we decided to use our credit card, which we maxed out very quickly. It turned out to be the best decision we ever made, because just one year later we were back in the same bank who offered us a $1.5M loan.
What’s one thing you wish you knew about business before you started?
That it’s as time consuming as people tell you. I think we were a bit naive going into it as I’m sure everybody is, but there was a period there of about 10 years there where both Tanya and I were instructing between 60-90 hours each every week and every waking minute that we weren’t in the studio we were writing instructor and education manuals and doing video and photo shoots for the manuals. It sounds cliche but you really have to love what you’re doing because it requires a lot of time and and at times, sacrifice.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I think my leadership style has evolved quite significantly over the years, and will continue to evolve as the business and team grows. I think a great team is something you can liken to a sporting team – everyone knows their positions and they play them well and as a leader it’s my job to set the vision and keep everyone feeling really supported and empowered.
If you could open a studio anywhere in the world, where would it be?
That’s an easy one, in The West Village in New York. Tanya and I spent a summer there before we opened our first franchise and so much of the original Studio Pilates vision and archetype was designed on that trip so it will always be a very special place for us.