Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sports and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erik Nowell, Owner of First Sound Training LLC., located in Alexandria, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
First Sound Training (FST) is a sports performance company that primarily focuses on the development of all athletes from ages 8 to professional athletes. We concentrate on the skills, footwork, and agility of all sports and, more specifically, the development and knowledge of the Wide Receiver position on the football field.
Tell us about yourself
I moved to the Northern Virginia area in 2010 and was working in a corporate office because I thought that was what I was supposed to do, but I knew that there was a deeper purpose for my life. I started a non-profit organization for Veterans with a friend, and although that was fulfilling, I still felt like I could do more to make a difference. In 2016, I randomly met a young athlete in the gym one day, and he told me he was trying to walk on to the Liberty University Football Team. Within that same conversation, I told him I played college football as well at the Division 1 level. He then proceeded to ask if I could help him get ready for his tryout; I hesitated because I had no idea what he expected to learn from me. I had never coached/trained anyone before. I also didn't have any equipment, and the only thing I could teach was what I knew how to do as an athlete. I was reluctant but told him I would give it a shot.
We set up a day to meet at a field, and I taught him everything that made sense to me as an athlete for his position. He enjoyed the training and asked if he could bring his former teammate to the next session, again still unsure of what was going on, but said yes. After that, it became a domino effect, the new kid brought his friend, and then he brought a friend, and one day I showed up, and I had 12 young athletes looking at me for direction. It was overwhelming but extremely fulfilling, and I was excited to be out there. I had now found my true purpose, and it was gratifying. Once or twice a week quickly turned into five days a week and meeting a new athlete every week. FST was born in April 2017, when a parent insisted on paying me for my work because they could see the improvement and confidence in their child. And the kid who started it all made the team and was a part of that team that beat Baylor in 2017!
What motivates me every day to go out in the summer heat or the winter cold and continue to develop athletes is my younger brother. He was involved in a violent incident that left him in a vegetative state. Every day since 2011, he's fighting for his life, and every day for me is a new day to potentially change someone's life. My brother was a really good athlete as well, and I see him in all the kids that I train. And seeing how hard he and my family work now just to keep him healthy and alive makes me go harder as well. I can't give excuses because he can't.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The biggest accomplishment for FST is seeing the growth of athletes playing at the next level. Whether it's high school athletes achieving their dream of playing in college or college athletes reaching their goals of playing professionally, that could be the change someone needs in their life. Being able to see your athletes accomplish things they never thought would happen that's the definition of success in this industry!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is trying to stay relevant, understanding the social media platforms, staying current with your posts, and making sure you're reaching the right people and being engaging. To some, that would be the fun part, but algorithms are constantly changing, so you have to create posts that fit into that, or you won't get the views, likes, or engagement you need in order to grow your business. 95% of FST's business comes from social media, so the need for a consistent social media presence is important.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure what you're doing is aligned with your purpose. You're going to want to put in hours to grow your business, so if it's truly something you love, then the work will never become exhausting.
- Be patient and don't think about the money. Sometimes businesses need time to grow, and that's the beauty of it, actually. Seeing something that you set out to build grow into something that eventually consumes your life, there's no better feeling.
- Last but not least, don't be afraid to fail. Everything isn't meant to succeed right away, so timing is everything. Put yourself out there and understand that everyone won't need what you're selling right away. It's going to be a grind every day, but the sacrifices, in the end, will truly be worth it.
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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