Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elli Williams, a performer and certified fitness instructor based in Inglewood, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a performer and certified fitness instructor with a mission to promote health, expression, and connection. I offer personal training as well as group classes in aerial arts, acrobatics, yoga, dance, and fitness. With various training modalities, I help clients of all levels and backgrounds work towards creative interests such as choreography and movement flow, as well as personal goals such as skill development, weight loss, therapeutics, injury prevention, and balanced living. My mobile studio can come to any space for performances, workshops, events, and coaching. For remote access, I offer Zoom yoga and workout classes as well as one-on-one training.
Tell us about yourself
I received a BA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in N. Ireland and moved back to the States in 2005 to pursue dance, photography, and painting. Since then, I knew I wanted to work for myself and run a creative space one day. I started teaching in 2009 and soon after fell in love with aerial dance. Empowered and excited, I began to focus on movement arts and relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles in 2014 for performance opportunities and green living. I love sharing my passion for movement and my business is my lifestyle.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am proud that I have built a business on what I love. No matter the challenge, my passion for arts and athletics has been an empowering experience. My biggest accomplishment is owning a business that is meant to empower my clients, to get them to climb higher, spin faster and try things that scare them. Aerial, in particular, showed me how strong a woman I can be. I couldn’t do a pull-up before I began. This is the case with the majority of my clients, and now my 60-year-old student can do flips off a hammock. My quiet 7-year-old student is outspoken on the playground doing more pull-ups than the boys. My student who couldn’t do the splits is teaching her friend how to do them. It is rewarding to see someone figure out how to use their body, how to conquer fear, heal from chronic pains and become connected to their inner artist. I am lucky to have many of the same clients over the years and to know that my teaching has impacted their lives. I feel accomplished watching them grow, and it gives me gratitude and assurance that I am accomplishing my business mission.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Counting on steady income throughout the year is not always possible, so this leads to some uncertainty in budgeting. The fitness and recreational industries have ebbs and flows, some predictable, based on holidays and seasons, and some not for a host of reasons. I have, over time, created my own systems, using apps and logs to plan ahead.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Self-educate. One has too many roles to play as a sole proprietor, and there is much to learn in all areas of your business, from continually developing your craft to marketing and billing, and...taxes. There is an enormous amount of free education on the Internet. Use it.
- Utilize Resources. You aren’t alone in your journey to work for yourself and grow your business. There are organizations, grants, and communities that want to help. Look locally and regionally for the people that can offer what you need, whether mentorship or funding; it’s out there if you research.
- Adapt. If the pandemic taught me anything, it was to adapt my business to present needs. When I couldn’t teach or train indoors, I went outdoors; when space became a challenge to find or afford, I focused on at-home teaching and training. Adapting also adds a little spice to life and leads to new possibilities.
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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