As many of you know, this past year I became the co-founder of a new Pilates studio business. It’s been a tremendous learning experience, as I’ve navigated a partnership, construction challenges in our space, working with instructors, clientele, etc. And now, another change is afoot. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Perhaps the most significant part of this process has been sharing this all with a partner who is also a good friend. Many people warned me of the pitfalls of working with a friend, but we plunged in nonetheless. We began with many frank, honest conversations about our goals, fears, strengths and weaknesses. After spending countless hours, gallons of coffee and some legal advice, we hammered out a written partnership agreement. As our lawyer said, hope for the best, but plan for the worst- case scenario. Oh, those lawyers! To date, I’d say our partnership is strong. We listen to each other. We support each other even when we disagree. We consult each other before making large decisions. We continue to share a common vision for our business. For me, the hardest thing has been separating our friendship from our partnership, and knowing when to change hats. My partner is someone I value and treasure and it’s been challenging to introduce the high stakes of owning a business. But, I have confidence that we have a solid foundation and will continue to grow as a team and that I will continue to grow as a business-person.
During the course of this first year, we have faced significant challenges with our physical space. Our historic building is being renovated and our ground floor location has been in the midst of a construction zone. We’ve had to create workarounds for heating and air conditioning, the bathroom is in rough shape and there has been constant noise, dust and other inconveniences. But through it all, we’ve managed to grow, albeit slowly, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our positive outlook and maintain our studio to our high standards. Our clientele has been supportive and appreciative, too.
But finally, and here’s the big news, a space has become available that is everything we have wanted from the beginning. In fact, it is a space that we’d eyed during our first visit to the building, but it was occupied. We have now snagged it for ourselves and at the end of the month, we’ll be movin’ on up! The rent is a bit higher, but within our budget, and we believe this new space will help us grow our business. It is in a completed section of the building and one with significantly more foot traffic. We will be in the midst of a more vibrant, creative tenant group and we are excited! I am also anxious about the increased expense, nervous about making the move work without interrupting business, the list goes on and on. But just as we took the leap last year to start this venture, I’m optimistic this will be just the thing to help us get to our next step.
So what’s the big takeaway here? I’d say to anyone thinking of starting her own small business, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Take your time, write a solid business plan, get your financing in order, and most important, have your support team in place. We could not have made things work without the support of our families and friends. We also have a network of trusted advisors we consult regularly. My partner and I believe in community and in being a part of something bigger than ourselves. And that applies in business and in friendship.
Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood. Check it out at www.nashvillepilatescompany.com. She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com. If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.
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