Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lara Harrington, Co-Owner of Boutique Fitness, Inc., located in New Bedford, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Boutique Fitness, we provide semi-private and private fitness sessions with a coach. We help busy people work fitness into their routines by providing recurring schedules, 30-minute workouts, thoughtful programming for strength and endurance, and a supportive community of coaches and clients.
Tell us about yourself
My background is actually in Fine Arts. I have a BFA from Mass College of Art; however, in my mid-twenties, I was stricken with severe joint inflammation and unable to make art. I hired a personal trainer to help me get stronger and sort out my nutrition, and she essentially nursed me back to health. From there, I fell in love with the healing power of fitness, and I dove right in. It's been 17 years. I've worked in all sorts of fitness scenarios - in-home training, at a chiropractor's office, through a physical therapist, at big box gyms, country clubs, water aerobics, boot camps, franchises... Through it all, I found my truest voice with small studio private training, where I could really invest in my client's progress. After managing a personal training studio for over five years, it was time for me to run my own. In 2011 I reached out to my good friend, Angela, about opening a studio in New Bedford, and that's how our partnership started. We opened our doors in January 2012.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving COVID... There were so many decisions to make and strategies to implement in such a short amount of time, it was impossible to know how it would all end up. We had built our business to four studio locations, 25 coaches, and hundreds of clients. By the end of 2020, we made the decision to close two of them and pour everything we had into New Bedford and Mattapoisett. Considering everything that happened between March and December, I'm really proud of how we pulled through… We are in a much better position as a company but also as people.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Evolution... The need to evolve and respond to changes around us while leading a team can be tricky. There needs to be a tremendous amount of consistency - in expectations, behavior, character, and of course, in service. But there also always needs to be vision, strategy, and willingness to change. As the visionary of Boutique Fitness, I have the precious role of throwing the monkey wrench in as people are getting comfortable… If we don't have something to work towards, complacency can set in, which is the most detrimental to a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it is you're providing. Spreading yourself thin will only weaken your outcomes.
- Build your email list... (no one wants to hear this one), And build trust with your audience.
- Make it about your clients/customers. They are the hero - not you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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