From Employee to Entrepreneur

a fellow lady boss's story

Meet Ariana

Ariana during a speaking gig at a local running club

Ariana during a speaking gig at a local running club

Growing up I never imagined I would be the owner of my own business. I watched my family run the restaurant they had owned for 20-some odd years and thought, “I NEVER want to go through this!” I figured I would be working on a resort or in some big fancy hotel; not because it was what I wanted to do, but because hospitality was what I was familiar with.

When the idea of becoming a personal trainer crossed my mind five years ago I quickly pushed it aside with thoughts like, “I can’t do that” or “I’m not fit enough to be a trainer.” So I did the logical thing and went to school for hospitality management!

After going through the intense program and landing my first job within a well-known high-end hotel chain, I realized my true passion lied in helping others reach their health and fitness goals. I started to work towards my personal training certifications and completed my training internships on the side while working full-time, and I decided to ignore the advice of others and ditched the corporate gyms in favor of building my own business right from the get-go.

From a group outing Ariana hosted for her clients and women in the community

From a group outing Ariana hosted for her clients and women in the community

In the midst of it all it felt like a long process. There were a lot of loooong days, between getting up at 5am to train, taking care of the administrative side of my business, fitting in my own workouts, and then going to work at the hotel until 11:30 at night.

But it was an incredibly rewarding experience with a lot of lessons, and looking back I realized it only took 3.5 years to get me from that first step of ordering my Fitness Theory manual to walking away from my job-job to focus on my steadily-growing personal training business.

I started off by training friends, family members, and co-workers, and I was SO excited the day a complete stranger hired me! From there things began to grow through word-of-mouth. I tried a lot of grassroots marketing efforts (I cringe at the thought of the first flyer I made at home and delivered to local businesses!), but the biggest driver in my business was and continues to be taking care of the women I work with and giving without expectations.

I gradually decreased my hours at the hotel as my client base grew over the course of eighteen months, until I made the jump to full-time self-employment in September of this year. I again decided to ignore the comments of “you aren’t committed unless you dive in 100%”. I never wanted to feel desperate for clients or to make anybody thinking I was just looking at them as the next dollar sign. The result has been a roster that’s filled with my ideal client.

I’ve discovered that growing a business is a lot like tackling big scary fitness goals - there are no shortcuts, and you don’t have to be the biggest, the strongest, or the most experienced. Your success boils down to the effort and passion you put into it.

The entrepreneurial life isn't always so sexy ;)

The entrepreneurial life isn't always so sexy ;)

Some of the key things I’ve learned include:

      Efficient workouts are a necessity for busy entrepreneurs/professionals/moms/basicaly everyone on the planet (I learned this the hard way by falling in love with triathlon when my business started to really take off). Having a plan and knowing what you want to accomplish during your gym time saves you time and makes it less likely you’ll skip out!

       Simplifying the nutrition process is of utmost importance! Gone are my days of prepping extravagant salads and beautifully-roasted cuts of meat for the week. Stews, chilies, soups, and smoothies are the most convenient way to stay fueled while on the go.

       Enjoy the journey along the way. This applies to anything we’re working towards. Regardless of how passionate or goal-driven we are, there are always going to be rough days. It’s so important to remind ourselves why we are tackling all of these crazy things along the way, and to give ourselves the opportunity to celebrate our successes, no matter how big or small! Reflecting on your achievements and how far you’ve come, whether it’s by journaling, chatting with others, or taking some quiet time to think, will be a huge help for staying motivated during the tough times.

There’s an old cliché that says, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” And it’s so true! There is hard work associated with any big scary goal, but that hard work can be so rewarding when we keep our eyes open to the lessons that arise from it and our energy directed towards new opportunities. Work hard now and enjoy the payoff! 


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