In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that
have shaped their business philosophy.



Founder, FIT4MOM


Background:  

FIT4MOM is a San Diego-based wellness company that offers exercise programs and other activities that facilitate the wellbeing of mothers. There are currently over 1,300 Fit4MOM franchises around the country.

The Mistake:

I started Stroller Strides 15 years ago so I could be a mom, first and foremost. But in some of those early years, the company was growing so fast that I lost my way. I was focused so much on what we provided as a product that I forgot why I started the business.

I was doing what most people do every single day; I got my work done, but I was starting to neglect my kids and my spouse. The child care hours were increasing, and I felt empty inside. That wasn’t why I started the business. That was a defining moment.

Actually, it was my sister – a sister who often holds a mirror up to me – who said: “You started this business so you could be a mom, first and foremost. Look at you: You’re always stressed, you’re always working. You don’t have time for any friends, let alone family.”

That was the reflection I needed. Once I realized that, I changed. That day, I drew three circles for the three most important things in my life: my marriage, my business and my kids. Where the circles overlapped was me.

I realized – and this is what we preach – you need to take care of yourself first. You need to put on your own oxygen mask first. I wasn’t doing that.

Now, my to-do list includes time to meditate, time to exercise, a date night with my husband, and quality time with my kids. I learned to be truly present. When I’m at work, I’m 100 percent in work mode. When I’m with my kids, I’m 100 percent with my kids.

You need to put on your own oxygen mask first.

The Lesson:

The realization I came to changed how we explain the program. It isn’t that we sell pre/post-natal classes or fitness classes. What’s more important is the why, which is to give women the strength for motherhood. The message became much more powerful once we started telling that story. If you focus on what’s important to you every day – Wow! – you can have a really powerful, passionate life.

In order to achieve my why, I started growing my team so I could do what only I could do, which is be a visionary. In building my team, I looked for balance. A team of only visionaries wouldn’t work. Instead, I look for integrators, people who can take my crazy ideas and make them happen. One thing that needs to be consistent for every team member is that they have to have a passion for the why. It has to vibrate when they talk about it.  Having this team lets me focus on being a mom. I still make my kids’ breakfasts every day and pick them up from school.

I spoke to some business coaches who said, “You can’t grow the business to what you want it to be while being a part-time mom.”

I said, “I want to grow this business because we’re a troop of moms, not despite it.”

We’ve created a feminine growth culture, and are supportive of women in their roles as moms. We believe in work with life rather than work vs. life. We’ve had year-after-year growth for 15 years, and that growth is because of the team I built. And I did that primarily with part-time moms.

When I started this business, I thought the franchisees would be for other fitness professionals like myself, but our franchisees come from a variety of careers. We’ve had accountants, attorneys, a crime scene investigator, and even a rocket scientist. They become franchisees or instructors because it’s life-giving. I wish more companies would realize that if you create a flexible work environment, you have the opportunity to tap into an incredibly talented, experienced group of women.

Follow FIT4MOM on Twitter at @FIT_4_MOM.

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