Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Catherine Schadskaje Barry, Head Coach of Eclipse Track & Field Club, located in Bowmanville, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Eclipse Track & Field Club is a full-service club; we provide Track & Field Training, Running Training, Speed Development Training, Team Conditioning & Fitness Training, Nutritional Counselling, and our newest program, "Fitness Therapy Training," for kids with physical and mental disabilities and impairments. The main focus of our business is the Track & Field Program, where we offer the following disciplines: Sprints, Hurdles, Jumps (Long Jump, Triple Jump, and High Jump), Throws (Javelin, Discus, and Shot Put), and Endurance Running. Our customers are mostly youths aged 5 to 18 who are interested in learning and developing the skills for Track & Field and perhaps competing. We also train Teams looking to improve their athlete's fitness, conditioning, and speed, such as Basketball, Football, Soccer, Baseball, Hockey, and Ringette, to name a few. With our newest program, our clients include youths with physical challenges and emotional and cognitive impairments such as autism, depression, and anxiety.

Tell us about yourself

I started my business in April 2019. I felt there was a need in my community for this type of Sports environment, and I felt I knew what to do and how to do it. I ensured I came up with a business plan, a vision, a mission, what I wanted my business to be about, and what it said about me. I wanted to help kids develop and improve through learning new skills and/or refining existing skills. But more than that, I wanted to create an environment where everyone would be welcomed and included, no matter their skill level. I wanted to create a safe space where youths can be themselves, work hard, develop confidence and self-esteem, and be encouraged to push beyond to be their best. The better part of my vision has been realized, and it is still being realized in ways I never imagined. That's something I am very proud of.

My motivation, or as the Japanese call it, "Ikigai" - my reason for getting up in the morning is simple, to bring joy to people. I'm not talking about making people happy and blowing smoke but about bringing my true authentic self to people and trying to make the daily experience a positive one filled with learning and encouragement even on the smallest of scales. I love and am passionate about what I do because I am able to share with others, and I am also always learning and growing as a person. Working with the youths I work with never feels like work, and at the end of practice, I often find myself in a great space. That's when you know you've really found your motivation. It's what keeps you coming back; it's what keeps me giving back as much as I receive.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been overcoming many different struggles that have come my way, both personally and in business. Despite the challenges, I have grown my business more than I ever envisioned, which has been amazing. I have been able to surround myself with great people and staff who also share in my vision which makes the whole experience of owning a business much better. The greatest accomplishment for me was creating and managing a successful business while never having any experience as an entrepreneur or business owner. I came from a 9-5 corporate environment; I did my job well, and I enjoyed it, but I never had to worry about the things that come from working for yourself. To be able to shift and realize all that is required as a business owner and obtain the support needed to obtain the know-how was crucial. I am very proud that it's been three years plus in business, and it has been a great success, and I am very pleased with Eclipse Track & Field Club. I would say for a start-up Club, we have done really well.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is all the situations that come your way that is beyond your immediate control. For example, all businesses were affected by Covid in March 2020 and for a good two years since. Some businesses never recovered, and some flourished. Pivoting quickly and being at the mercy of things beyond my control have been hard but not impossible. It meant adapting and thinking outside my comfort zone. We did go Virtual, but if I am honest, that wasn't the best case scenario for Track & Field training where skills are taught normally in person. So we had to shift to a more "conditioned and fitness" approach and wait to see in terms of when things would open up again and what we could do.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Top 3 tips for anyone looking to start a business and then grow it....absolutely important.

  1. First, here are must-haves:
  • Vision
  • Mission about what your business is all about
  • Plan (detailed)
  • Data Collection and Market Analysis
  • Execution Strategy
  • Launch Strategy with dates
  • Marketing and Advertising Strategy
  • Reflection and Revision

2.  The 2nd most important thing to have is Knowledge. Know about the industry in which you are opening up your business or wanting to grow your business. Take a look at your competitors or even other businesses that may or may to be similar. Take the good and leave the bad. There's often no need to reinvent the wheel; there are so many great models out there for great businesses to either get started or grow. It's important to stay humble and always learn.

3.  Stop worrying about what others are doing. Once you focus all of your energy on others, the game is over. Concentrate on what you are doing and do it well. One of the biggest mistakes I see is trying to compete with others in everything. Often times businesses have a great program or product that is unique to them and works really well. However, they then think they need to sell or offer what others are offering, diluting their main successful idea and, in essence, being good or average with a lot of things rather than focusing and being great with what you already have. Don't get me wrong; there are times when the expansion of ideas, programs, and products is absolutely necessary, but trying to keep up with the competition will lead to failure each and every time because your focus is no longer on your own business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I think it's crucial as a new business to be open to seeking help in terms of resources. There are a lot of available resources to any business, and anything that can make me better as a business owner and even as an individual is key. I am always looking to improve and be better. Lastly, I think if you can be passionate about what you do and be really authentic, this will always shine through, and people will see it. Surround yourself with people who reflect your vision but will also never be afraid to challenge you. Be honest and open to new ideas, and never be afraid to fail. Failure happens in life in all things; it doesn't have to define you as a person, it's just a situation, and the best thing to do is to learn and move on.

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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