Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in martial arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Steaphen Fick, Founder of Davenriche European Martial Artes School, located in Santa Clara, CA, USA.

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

We teach HEMA (Historic European Martial Arts), Medieval and Renaissance martial arts. We have students from ages 8-70. Our members are students, construction workers, IT professionals, Doctors, Lawyers, and everything in between.

Tell us about yourself

I started practicing with European-bladed weapons in 1989 and teaching professionally in my backyard in 2000. I now have the largest sword-fighting school in North America. I travel around the world and work with martial arts students; I get to choreograph productions on stage and on screen. I also go to middle schools and work with students bringing history to life for them.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is working with people that come in with physical or mental/psychological weights on them and watching them grow into themselves and feel better. I've seen students grow 1 to 2 inches because they start to stand up straighter as they feel better about themselves.

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

One of the hardest things about being a business owner is that you don't get to do as much of what you loved doing that got you to start your own business. As a swordfighter, I loved training and studying different bladed weapons. Now I run the business, and I don't get to do as much of that as I used to.

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

  1. Look outside your industry. When we start a business, we look for examples that we can use to help us grow our business. We almost exclusively look for examples from people doing what we do. There are so many successful businesses out there that have ideas that you might be able to use, but because they are not in your industry, you might not think about the issues they are finding answers for. Take their ideas, and tweak them a bit to fit into your business, and it can help you round out what you offer to your clients.
  2. Don't try to do everything yourself. There are customers and clients that want you to succeed. They have ideas and suggestions that you may not have thought of. Talk to those around you and get them invested in your business so that they want to help you with ideas and plans. You have the ultimate say in what is done and not done, but there are so many ideas that you may not have even considered.
  3. Barter. There are jobs that you may not be good at. Don't waste your time or drive yourself crazy trying to become mediocre at something you hate doing. There are people out there that love to do those things. If you trade services with them, you make them happy because they get to do things they enjoy, and you get to spend more time doing the things that you enjoy. The best way to be successful and get what you want is to help others get what they want.

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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