Josh York is the Founder & CEO of GYMGUYZ, an in-home mobile personal training company headquarted in Plainview, New York. Since its inception in 2008, Josh has been valued for his hands-on leadership style growing the business and profitability to more than 1000 clients, 45 employees and a fleet of vans in less than 6 years.
How you spend your money is always important to the health of your business, but when you're first starting out, it's monumental. Every cent counts, and making the wrong move can mean your great idea crashes and burns before it ever gets off the ground.
I know, because it almost happened to me.
As the founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, I've made plenty of mistakes, but one of the worst was at the very beginning. My idea for an in-home personal training business was just coming together, and I decided I needed exactly the right kinds of marketing materials to give my enterprise that professional sheen. Anyone will tell you I'm an extremely anal-retentive kind of guy; I like things to be perfect. So I spent a huge amount of time designing my marketing, including everything from business cards to letterhead.
I launched my business with just $15,000. That included a van ($7,000), trademark attorney fees ($2,000), equipment ($2,000), office supplies ($1,500) and apparel ($500). After spending on marketing materials, I was down to my last thousand. And that's when I realized I had forgotten to add both the fax number for GYMGUYZ and the business' trademark to the materials I'd so carefully designed.
Being worried about a missing fax number may seem hilarious today, but at the time, it felt like I had shot myself in the foot in a major way. I had poured every dollar I had into this business, and I was surviving on a steady diet of PB&J and canned tuna.
I knew I had to fix my marketing materials, but I didn't have anywhere near enough money for a do-over. So I did what I always do when facing a challenge: I put my head down and got to work. I went out and hustled like I had never hustled before. At one point, I was selling my services door-to-door, hoping to sign up enough new clients to give me the capital I needed.
And you know what? I did. I ended up signing enough new clients to update my marketing with the correct information. That mistake had left me with no option but to succeed through sheer force of will. I knew if I didn't sign up enough new clients, I was going to be stuck with a business deep in the red and a large collection of useless business cards. I'd be lucky if I could even afford PB&J and tuna.
The experience taught me two valuable lessons I adhere to still.
First, it taught me not to fear mistakes. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I've messed up more times than I can count. I never had a mentor coaching me along the way, and those mistakes ended up being my teachers. Every screw-up came with a lesson, and I've come to realize that making mistakes is the best way to learn.
The truth is, a mistake can be a blessing in disguise, depending on how you look at it. Spending all my money on marketing materials I couldn't use was a horrible feeling, but it also lit a fire in my belly and tested my ambition. It's when I realized I'm the type of guy who will never give up, no matter what. Mistakes are what separate truly driven people from the rest.
Secondly, I learned that mistakes create an opportunity to improve. Following that blunder, I put systems in place to ensure no materials released by GYMGUYZ would ever be lacking in vital information. It may mean I insist on reading all our marketing materials two or three times before signing off on them, but hey, better safe than sorry.
Today, GYMGUYZ is the No. 1 in-home personal training franchise in America, and the business is expanding across the country.
So, what's the takeaway for other startups out there? Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, worry about how you react to them. No matter how badly you mess up, the only person who decides whether your business will fail or thrive is you.
And when it comes to marketing materials, double-, triple- or quadruple-check them to make sure everything is exactly how you want it. Marketing is vital to a business' success, so take the time to ensure that how you present yours is flawless.