After years of working at a conventional gym, Ashley Morgan was frustrated. She realized there were no weight loss personal training studios in her area focused on women.
Instead of waiting for someone else to open a gym, Morgan started training women in her backyard in 2013. “All I knew when I started is that I wanted to scratch an itch that a lot of people had – including myself,” Morgan says.
She had an educational background in nutrition and plenty of experience as a personal trainer, but business was a whole new world.
“I never learned about marketing, sales funnels, buyer behavior, SEO, permits, business insurance, accounting, creating a niche market, managing employees, or any of the other responsibilities that come along with owning a business,” Morgan admitted.
But with a little help from SCORE, Morgan has grown her business from her backyard to a 2,000-square-foot studio with employees and dozens of clients. Bad Ash Personal Training and Nutrition focuses on healthy weight loss and nutrition techniques and habits. Morgan specializes in breaking through weight-loss plateaus, and she even offers a Mommy and Me fitness program to help busy new mothers keep up with their fitness routines.
Learning where to start with SCORE
“I got a SCORE mentor because I was completely confused and overwhelmed when I started my business,” Morgan says. “It seemed like there was too much to learn and I didn't know where to start.”
She worked with mentor Jimmy Fraggos to prioritize the actions to take in the early stages of her business. She also attended online workshops about marketing and networking. “I learned about the power of an email list and social media marketing as well as how to approach the right people to make sure I have good connections all the time,” Morgan said.
As her relationship with Fraggos grew, Morgan found she was getting more than she first bargained for. “I originally sought out a mentor to help me create a business plan,” Morgan said. “My mentor has helped me write a business plan, learn to budget and has even just listened to me complain about the challenges of running a business from time to time.”
Having a confidant has kept her humble, too. “Don't take criticism the wrong way,” she advised potential new business owners. “Your mentor is there to challenge your idea to make sure it will hold up. Leave your ego at the door because your early business plan is probably full of holes.”
Finding success – and learning experiences
“I’ve been profitable in my first two years of operation,” Morgan reveals. “Not a lot of new business owners can say that.” She credits much of that success to her time spent planning her business with her SCORE mentor.
But the journey hasn’t been challenge-free. “I’ve had a lot of ‘failures’ – learning experiences – while growing this business,” Morgan says. To work through those challenges, Morgan keeps her eyes on her major goals. “All the stuff in between will sort itself out as long as you keep asking the right questions and taking action.”