We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.
Meet: Sam Langer. Sam was the first franchisee of GYMGUYZ (a personal training franchise providing convenient, customized and creative workouts) and made his investment back in under two months. At 24, Sam was bored in his corporate job as a project sports planner for ESPN, but he always found time to head to the gym and enjoyed training his colleagues and bosses on the side. While Sam’s parents were on vacation, they met Josh York, the CEO and founder of GYMGUYZ, in the buffet line, of all places. Josh’s passion about the concept led to a phone call to Sam, who bought 14 territories in and around Westchester, New York.
Making money in less than two months as a startup small business owner is no easy task. Sam not only hustled as the trainer, but also spent his free time guerilla marketing. Sam could be found networking and handing out pamphlets at Chamber of Commerce meetings, street fairs, local malls and bridal expos. He also lined the streets with lawn signs, peppered the train station with flyers and got to know local businesses.
Sam branded himself across town as the hottest personal training service that comes to you, on your schedule, and personalizes your workouts and diet plans.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Sam Langer: Like most young boys I wanted to be a pro athlete when I grew up, probably a pro golfer. When I started realizing what the real world was, I decided I wanted to start my own business when I grew up.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Langer: I have an education and background in both business and fitness so putting the two together made perfect sense. I was unhappy with my current job and decided taking a risk at a young age to start my own business was going to be worth it no matter what.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Langer: Making my final decision to leave ESPN was a pivotal moment. I remember it being a big moment but also a very easy decision.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Langer: Own your brand, believe in yourself, be persistent and don’t take “no” for an answer. Always work your way around problems.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Langer: Customer service is No. 1. Be in touch with your customers’ needs and make sure you stay in tune with their lives. Keep the relationships solid. This means human interaction that goes beyond automated replies, emails and invoices. You need to be mindful of your customers and get in front of them in a more human way, whether it means picking up the phone and talking with them or meeting with them face-to-face.
Lesonsky: Do you have a small business prediction for the rest of the year?
Langer: The fitness industry will continue to grow because of the obesity epidemic. In-home gyms and private trainers will become more popular, too, because gyms are overcrowded and people who are overweight are sometimes intimidated about going to a public place to work out. Having someone come to your home and show you what to do is a better and more efficient use of your money.
Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?
Langer: The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Langer: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” ~ Muhammad Ali.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.