My Why

So incredible!  Yesterday, I attended the annual meeting and luncheon for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce … and Pure Barre Winston-Salem won the Truliant Best Small Business in Winston-Salem award for 2017!

I mean, seriously?  What an honor.  Winston-Salem was literally built from small businesses growing into large corporations (think RJ Reynolds, Hanesbrands, Krispy Kreme, Wachovia/Wells Fargo, BB&T and the list goes on) paving the way for thousands of other startups and small businesses to make their mark on the city.  And now, my business has been recognized as being the best.  Thank you!  To the Chamber, Truliant, my amazing clients, and my incredibly talented team of hard-working employees—Thank you!

So why do I do what I do?  Being a small business owner isn’t always glamourous.  It can be really hard sometimes.  But, I am motivated by the idea that there is nothing worse than wasted talent in this world.  You know, the idea that everyone has great potential and can accomplish great things.  And for me, that starts with being physically fit to accomplish all those great things.  When your body is strong, your mind is strong and you can do just about anything.

Every day, I get to see my clients do amazing things in the studio that I know help them do amazing things outside of the studio.  I’ve been fortunate to see clients who walk into Pure Barre completely unsure of themselves and their physical capabilities, transform into confident and strong individuals.  I’m extremely fortunate to experience these things on a daily basis.  It’s inspiring.

What if you were at the center of a workplace where everyone was pushed to be their best?  What if your business was bigger than yourself?  What if you could wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY?

Yep.  Life is pretty damn good.

How to Form the Right Strategic Partnerships for Your Business

At the beginning of your business lifecycle, you’re just living day-to-day, constantly putting out fires or just able to focus on accomplishing what’s directly in front of you.  But as you hire and develop a team of great employees, you can start to think and interact beyond the walls of your business.  Maybe you start to meet and socialize with other business owners.  Maybe these other business owners have a similar client base to your own—wouldn’t it be great to work together and join forces to market both businesses together?!  Maybe, or maybe not.  Working with another business, or forming a strategic partnership, to reach a similar client base can be a great business tool or a colossal headache.  Does it make sense to create a strategic partnership and link your business to another?  Ask yourself these 3 questions:

Will both businesses receive equal benefit from the partnership?

This is the most important question to ask yourself when looking to partner with another business.  If both of your businesses won’t equally benefit from working together, then it can’t really be called a “partnership.”  Now that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t figure out a way to work together, but a true strategic partnership is mutually beneficial for both parties and not a one-sided endeavor.

Signs that you’re not entering into a strategic partnership:

  1. You will be spending money on an event or promotion to benefit both of your businesses, and the other business will not be sharing the expenses, or vice versa.
  2. You and your team do most of the labor to organize an event or promotion and the other business does not, or vice versa.
  3. Your business receives a disproportionate amount of leads from an event or promotion and the other business does not, or vice versa.
  4. You put your business at legal risk forming this partnership–if you answer “yes” to this question, no need to bother asking any other questions.  No partnership should put your business at risk.  It’s a no-go.

We just had a great event partnering with Village Juice, an amazing restaurant serving cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads, and toasts.  Everything served is clean—meaning no artificial ingredients.  As their website says, “We believe real food doesn’t contain ingredients, it is ingredients.”  Since we’re in the middle of the Pure Health Challenge (Literally half-way done!), having an outdoor class at Village Juice was a great way to get my clients together for a fun class, drink and eat some healthy, tasty food, and socialize after.  Both businesses received an equal benefit from this partnership—Lonnie, the owner of Village Juice, was assured a packed house on Sunday morning after class and we had a great event venue and a chance to refuel with clean food which will promote better post-workout results.  Both businesses also got a chance to show potential new clients what we’re all about.  A partnership at its best!

Unfortunately, not every partnership is as well-paired as ours with Village Juice.  One time, the studio was asked to have an off-site class at another popular local business.  We spent a lot of money to rent equipment and market the event.  We also closed our studio to encourage people to attend what was billed as a special and unique off-site class.  We taught the class—doing most of the labor.  Unfortunately, the other business didn’t do any marketing to their own clients (even though they had agreed to) and the only people who showed up were invited because we had told them about the event.  So, we closed the studio, invited all the people in attendance, did all the work, and the other business had a huge sales night.  We unfortunately, got very little benefit from the experience, other than knowing that we’ll never schedule another event like that again.  Does this mean that I wouldn’t work with this business again?  No!  I’d be happy to go back and teach a class at any future event they’d like to schedule—for a fee.  If they wanted to host a class in the future, I would require a fee to teach the class and they would be responsible for all of the marketing to build attendance.  Why did this experience lead to a failed partnership?  Perhaps it’s because we really aren’t trying to reach the same client base.

Are both businesses really trying to reach the same client base? 

To get the most from a strategic partnership, you’ll want to determine if your potential partner is really trying to reach the same client base as you are.  So, go ahead and ask them: “Who is your ideal client?  I just want to a make sure we’re going to be putting our efforts towards the same goal.”  If your potential partner is actually trying to reach a new demographic by working with you, perhaps you would be better-served to forgo this pairing.  Why?  See above.  If you end up spending more money and more time to get less than the other business, then you don’t have a great fit for a strategic partnership.   This leads us to the importance of setting expectations for any future partnerships.

Do both businesses have the same expectation about the goals of partnership?

The best strategic partnerships occur when both parties take their time to establish the primary goals and direction of the partnership.  I am really excited about a new partnership that Pure Barre Winston-Salem and Pure Barre Clemmons has formed with Fleet Feet Sports of Winston-Salem.  During the month of November, Pure Barre will be part of Fleet Feet’s Living Fit Series and have 4, 45-minute classes at Fleet Feet on Monday’s at 6:00 PM.  Pure Barre is a great cross-train for running and we recently created a package specifically for runners or those who like to cross-train—Flex Barre, which is 4 classes a month for $69.  This package is great for anyone who is running or doing other cross-training, but still wants to add Pure Barre for a low-impact strength training exercise.

Before we both agreed to this series of events, I met with Stacie, Director of Training Programs at Fleet Feet, to discuss how working together could directly benefit both businesses and what our goals and expectations of the events were.  Stacie was interested in providing a great cross-train for their running community during the colder “off-season.”  Although, is there any off-season for runners?!

Since we now have our Flex Barre package, I was interested in reaching out to introduce Pure Barre to more people in the running community.  Most importantly, both Pure Barre and Fleet Feet are constantly seeking to offer their clients a quality experience.  Our main goal at each business is to build a great brand that is synonymous with quality and excellence.  I can’t wait to update you on how this partnership goes.  I think it will be really fun and exciting!  Who knows, maybe those runners will inspire me to do a little cross-train—or at least get some new shoes.

Hopefully you’ve noticed that each of these 3 questions build off of one another.  You really need to ask all 3 to get to the answer of whether a potential strategic partnership is a good fit for you and your business.  Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions.  If you ask a question and the answer is a little shaky or vague, think about that and whether it’s a sign that the proposed partnership is not necessarily going to benefit your existing clients or allow you to gain access to new clients.

Partnerships can be a great business tool, but if they don’t work out, you might feel taken advantage of or angry that your expectations weren’t met.  I’ve partnered with other businesses with great success and unfortunately had some less stellar outcomes.  Sometimes it’s important to take the risk and see what happens, but a little preparation and definition of what each potential partner is seeking can go a long way to serving the needs of both businesses.

I’ve been able to travel more recently—which has been great!  But I’m finding that I need to get back to having great accessories to make travel easier—like a cross-body bag.  I’ve been looking at some options and I’ll give you my top picks on Friday.  Hopefully I can make a final decision by then!

Until then, stay on your toes!

What’s been Holding You Back? Solve that Problem to Help Your Clients

It’s often said that the best businesses solve problems that matter or that our biggest problems are the source of our biggest opportunities.  What if solving the biggest problem you face personally—I mean, right now—tackling your biggest life problem at this exact moment, was the key to providing an amazing experience for your clients?

Now that I’ve owned my Pure Barre studios for five years, I’ve realized that the best businesses not only solve big problems, but they evolve to continue to be relevant for their clients as new problems surface.  When you first open your business, you’re in the Initial Problem Phase.  You’re solving an identified problem for your new clients.  For me, it was offering an amazing, high-quality barre class since no barre classes of our quality and consistency were available in Winston-Salem, NC.  And that’s been fun.  Building that community of women has been extremely rewarding.

But now, we seem to be entering into the Follow-On Problem Phase—just offering a great barre class isn’t enough.  My clients want to incorporate overall health and wellness into their fitness routine.  They want more variety of classes including cardio and they want to eat and live better.  Basically, they want it ALL.  And come to think of it … so do I.  I want to eat better, have more of a variety of workouts, and live a better life.  Who doesn’t?  What if solving my own problem is the key to moving my business into its next phase?

A few months ago, I came to the realization that most of our studio events were stale and getting boring.  We were in a rut of doing the same events each month and clients were no longer showing the same level of enthusiasm to participate.  What to do?!  If any of you regularly plan events to keep your clients engaged and returning to your business on a regular basis, you know that developing something new can be difficult and time-consuming.  It’s also nerve-racking because you never really know if clients will embrace your ideas until you announce them.  Furthermore, if we were entering into the Follow-On Problem Phase, what exactly was the new problem my team and I were trying to solve?

The biggest problem I am personally trying to overcome is being consistent with my classes and eating better food.  I’ve written how I started the Whole30 and when I finished those grueling 30 days, I felt awesome and didn’t really want to go back to eating like I had been.  Ok, I was totally ready for a Corona or 4, but that was about it.

When you’re single, cooking for one can be less than exciting.  It’s really easy to get into a rut of making the same things or throwing random leftovers together because it seems like a waste of time to prepare a proper meal for just one person.  But that’s so bad—because often time eating for one involves prepared or processed foods that aren’t that great for you and can zap your energy making working out seem like a chore.  It’s a bad cycle to get into—especially for someone trying to lead a fitness community.  Finding Sarah Adler and her website and blog, Simply Real Health (www.simplyrealhealth.com) has been perfect for me.  The blog is full of great ideas, recipes and pictures.  The cookbook of the same name, Simply Real Health is also amazing ($39.95).  I’ve tried almost all the recipes and started eating breakfast more consistently after trying the smoothies.

But what I’m the biggest fan of are the seasonal meal plans.  I just bought Spring and right now, you can download a free 3-day sample meal plan to try out.  The Spring Meal Plan was about $100 and includes 4 weeks of recipes for every single meal.  There are also some great bonus items including healthy snacks, great side dishes to incorporate if you’re having friends over, and a guide to healthy choices in restaurants.  It’s perfect for me because each week I get a complete grocery list, head to the store knowing exactly what I’ll need to make all of my meals each day, and I’m good to go for the week.  Oh, and the best part … everything tastes amazing and is easy to prepare.  Thanks to Sarah Adler and Simply Real Health, my healthy eating problem was solved!  So of course, I had to pass on this gold to all my clients and thus the Pure Health Challenge was born!

As I mentioned before, our events seemed stale and uninspiring. We had just been recycling them from previous years.  It was time to shake things up and drill down to what really mattered most to me and my clients—a total health experience.  Here’s what we came up with and what we’ll be doing in my studios for all of June and July. That’s right!  60 days of Pure Health!

  1. First, we decided that we’d need a baseline to know where we all are with our health. My chiropractor, Dr. Gray, has this body composition analysis machine called, InBody.  We partnered with him to bring InBody to the studios in the beginning of June for every Pure Health Challenge participant to get an assessment including weight, muscle mass, fat mass, water, hydration level and many other indicators to know where they were at the beginning of the Challenge.  After 6 weeks, Dr. Gray will come back to the studio with InBody to measure everyone’s progress.  We’ll literally be able to quantify all of the work completed during the Challenge.  Exciting stuff!
  2. Of course, everyone gets the Simply Real Health cookbook to start planning healthy and tasty meals.
  3. During the Challenge, we’re asking everyone to take 4 classes each week. This seems reasonable and doable.  If you complete 4 classes each week, you’ll earn a small reward from Pure Barre or our other partners, Village Juice and Kleur Shop.  If you don’t complete the 4 classes, just reset the next week.    But, sometimes just starting is the hardest part, so we’re partnering with Kleur Shop to host an evening to talk about what’s holding us back from committing to working out like we know we should.
  4. At Pure Barre, we have special Intensive classes which take our clients further out of their comfort zone to target specific areas of the body and do some exciting new things we wouldn’t normally work in a regular class. Everyone participating in the Pure Health Challenge will have the opportunity to take our Strength & Balance Intensive in June and the Full Body Burn Intensive in July.  Sweat!
  5. And what Challenge calendar wouldn’t be complete with an outdoor Pop Up class?! We’ll have an amazing pop up at Village Juice the morning of Sunday, June 25th and get some great juice and healthy snacks after.
  6. Finally, one of my favorite restaurants in Winston, Spring House, agreed to create a Paleo Happy Hour for all Pure Health Challenge participants at the end of July.  Thanks Chef Tim and Elizabeth for letting us celebrate our good health!

Coordinating all these activities was a huge undertaking, so I’m glad I have my Team to help me.  I’ve never been more excited for anything at the studios!  Figuring out how to solve my own problem of consistently taking class and eating healthy, good food brought about this amazing program of events that will benefit the hundreds of women taking class at the studios this summer.  Going forward all of our events and programming will seek to provide a better understanding of total health—until we reach our next Follow-On Problem Phase.

If you’re local to the area, stop by the studio and learn more about our Pure Health Challenge.  If not, check out the links to Simply Real Health and start the workout you like best in your area.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my newest life hack—how to make a smoothie without bananas or avocados.  I am allergic to bananas and avocados, which makes smoothie consumption pretty difficult—but I finally figured out how to substitute those elusive fruits and now feel like I’m winning at life—or at least breakfast.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Simply Real Health Cookbook ($39.95)

Simply Real Health Free 3-Day Sample Spring Meal Plan