Grit, survival, growth, and then success. In that order.
Everyone knows you’ve got to work hard to be an entrepreneur, but few are willing to share what the journey really looks like. Hear the true story from Fitness Trainer Jacob Moffitt as he shares the good, the bad, and the unexpected of starting his business on a shoestring budget.
Tune into the 18th Episode of the #AmplifyYourBusiness Podcast and listen to Jacob’s story.
Length: 58 minutes
Personal trainer, business owner and perpetual motion machine Jacob Moffitt is the proud founder of Movement Co, a boundary-breaking Perth Gym that focusses on bodyweight exercise.
Function as well as strength, fun as well as fitness, and the type of community where members cheer each other on rather than avoiding eye contact – that’s what Movement Co is all about. You’ll find monkey bars, climbing walls, parkour exercise equipment and more in this gym – Perth’s first mixed movement facility.
Now in its third year of operation, Movement Co is growing steadily. But the journey from concept to success was a long and winding road.
This is where the true story of an entrepreneur’s journey starts. Jacob was just a guy with an idea until he took the leap. Everything that happened next was something no entrepreneur – ever – is prepared for.
Jacob and his buddy Jason got the idea for a ‘bodyweight gym’ when training for their Personal Training Certifications. They knew no one was really doing it – a gym full of bars where you could do any bodyweight exercise you liked (pull-ups, muscle-ups, etc.).
“I thought, cool, let’s progress towards getting a small place,” Jacob remembers.
The next 6-month period saw Jacob take the proverbial ‘leap’. He sold his existing small business – a fitness and body scanning outfit – took out a personal loan, and combined client networks with another few coaches. Boom, they were up and running.
As with any business, the product or service changes once the wheels start turning. Jacob almost wanted to lean towards gymnastics and a ‘ninja training’ style facility at first, which would have included more climbing facilities, space and even obstacle courses. Demand was higher for bar training, personal training and the ‘handstand’ class. And it turns out climbers usually want pure climbing facilities, so they’ve focused in on bars and taken out some of the climbing wall and parkour style features.
400 clients in 6 months – that was the goal when Movement Co started. The reality? After 2.5 years of busy and full classes, it’s just now that the business is looking to soon hit the 400 mark.
With that 400 will come stability, streamlined operations, and true success. And though it took years to get there, before you make any snap judgements – know that this is what starting a business really looks like.
Podcast host Matt, who has helped start and run 9 businesses, jumps in at this point.
“I’ve been in businesses for years, and that’s step one of the game: Survival, for as long as you can.”
– Matt J. Hanham
“People don’t last. Most people’s businesses aren’t around in three or four years, but it isn’t talked about. Businesses of all kinds go through the same thing – it’s just the size that’s different.”
– Matt J. Hanham
Despite the challenges, Movement Co has survived. But it wasn’t without difficulty. So how did it go down? What did those three years look like behind the scenes? What does it take to hit the break even point?
Well, when Movement Co started, they didn’t have figures for how many leads they could expect, or when, or for what cost. The same is true of most businesses – and even if they’ve tried to draw up those figures, they usually aren’t accurate.
A healthy startup network meant the business had clients right away, but paying for the facility and wages meant the profit wasn’t there from the beginning.
Jacob remembers the challenge of watching the 400 clients in 6 months goal blow by. He had to readjust his expectations. And he had to readjust the expectations of his staff.
“It was 2.5 years of maxing out credit cards, putting off paying Super, and pulling basically every string we could to keep the business healthy.”
– Jacob Moffitt
“When starting a business, there’s always sacrifice. Wherever you get your capital – loans, selling off pieces of your own business, or investors – you’ve just got to put a lot in in order to reach that break even and profit point.”
– Jacob Moffitt
But once you break through those barriers – that’s where the dream is.
A huge, unexpected success for Movement Co is the booming kids program. Monday to Friday classes for active classes like parkour are booked weeks in advance. The demand was a surprise – and it took awhile for the business to figure out the best way for 30 kids plus 20 parents to share space with the adult fitness classes – but they’ve nailed the system now, and it’s growing quickly.
Entrepreneurship and freedom. Those two words are closely connected – and they do lead to each other – but the relationship is complex.
There’s no direct line from starting a business to sitting on a beach, phone in hand, watching your business run itself. In fact, it’s rare that entrepreneurship works out that way.
There’s also no designated script saying you must work 80 hours a week to get your business off the ground, and then enjoy life later.
What Jacob has learned is that entrepreneurship offers neither – it offers a third kind of freedom. The freedom to choose what you work hard on, and when.
Becoming a father put all of this into perspective for Jacob.
“[Becoming a parent] has made me much more aware of my work-life balance. When you first start a business, you’re all in. When you’re married and have a family, that’s a big draw. Even though running a business is a 24/7 job, I lock myself into a 9-5, Monday to Friday schedule as much as possible. Now I’m at a point where I can structure my day to help the kids in the morning, spend time with the family, and then head in and run the business.”
– Jacob Moffitt
In the end, that’s what it’s all about, Jacob reckons. We become entrepreneurs for two reasons – one, to build our dreams, and two, to live our lives the way we see fit.
No, entrepreneurship isn’t a free ride. But it’s not a death march either. It’s a bit like raising a family – equal parts hard work, freedom and the utterly unexpected.
And when you put enough drive and passion in, the rewards reverberate through your entire life just as powerfully as that voice that once said “who am I to start a business?”
“When my mum got to show her friends the picture of us on the front page of the newspaper, that’s when I knew everything was going right.”
– Jacob Moffitt
What’s the one book Jacob would take if he got put into solitary confinement for a year?
The Daily Stoic. Why? Because it’s built to be read over a year, one provoking thought every day. With most other books, you would hit a wall in depth. Daily stoic would give you something to think about each and every day.
What’s Jacob’s favourite Disney Character?
Moana. Why? Because she broke free of her cultural walls. Her family, and her culture, and her island was set up to say ‘this is all you need.’ But she had the drive, and felt the pull, to dream about something bigger. And that ties into the idea of being an entrepreneur.
Jacob’s answer to this one is simple: Get started.
There’s no special potion or special recipe you need. There’s no special set of skills. The most important thing is taking the leap of faith. That’s where the magic begins.
“Action builds upon action.” On the days where I train better, I work better, I eat better, and I live better.”
– Jacob Moffitt