Almost everyone has had a turning point in their life that completely changes the trajectory of their career. Whether it be personal or professional, life is filled with countless trials and tribulations that can cause lives to be turned upside down. Your reaction to that moment can permanently impact your future. For me, that shift in mentality has led to multi-unit ownership of seven D1 Training franchises with the support of a rock star team, all by the age of 26.
The turning point came for me as a Division I football strong safety with California State University of Sacramento. I had my sights set on taking the next step in professional athletics, but unfortunately suffered a catastrophic injury. I shattered my right hand, calling for six emergency surgeries that landed me in the hospital for several months with a serious infection and nerve damage. An injury like that can have detrimental effects on a person, but for me, I was determined to not let this experience destroy my passion. I then began focusing all of my attention on what my next steps were going to be in life, which led to me to obtaining my master’s of business administration with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and global business.
After graduation, I began my practice in the remote health and wellness space, but I still felt like owning my own fitness facility was my true calling. While visiting Reno, I became exposed to the D1 Training franchise brand, and immediately clicked with the founder and CEO, Will Bartholomew. I took a leap of faith, and after knowing the D1 team for only two weeks, I up and moved to Nashville in 2020 to become the general manager at the D1 flagship facility in Cool Springs, Tennessee.
While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted so many lives, both personally and professionally, my faith in the D1 brand grew stronger. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, same-store total revenue grew nearly 70% year-over year. Since joining D1, the brand has experienced consistent record-breaking revenue months, which is a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication.
My ability to rise within the ranks of the organization and set forth on my entrepreneurship path stems from earning trust and respect from my peers and supervisors, who in turn have played an immense role in my ongoing success as the ultimate support system. I realized early on that I would be unable to be truly successful without the right people around me. Success rarely derives from an individual effort, and having a phenomenal team working together becomes an absolute necessity.
After a lot of hard work and effort, Bartholomew offered me a partnership venture. Fast-forward to today, and we recently purchased six more territories together.
My success as an entrepreneur has not always come easy, and has not always come without risk. However, through it all, I have leaned on the following four tips as a guide for young entrepreneurship.
Find a mentor
Having someone to learn from and bounce ideas off is paramount to success. Learn from their mistakes and successes, so you can minimize the former and maximize the latter. Mentors have taken this path before and bring knowledge and experience to help you move forward and make smarter business decisions. They’ll also help you stay accountable and inspire you to achieve your goals. Bartholomew and I both suffering catastrophic injuries at early stages in our career – his double ACL tear and my hand injury – but having a desire to still be involved in the sport and training fields, I sought him as someone I wanted to model my career after. His willingness and ability to mentor me has allowed for my tremendous success at this age, and I certainly would not be where I am without him. Finding, selecting and growing your relationship with a mentor can lead to immense opportunity.
Dismiss ageism by outworking your peers
It’s easy for individuals in our society to look at opportunity and to look at norms – and think, I’m not old enough to do that. Age should not create any boundaries – erase that from your memory. Believe that you can succeed and commit to outworking your peers. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of work, a lot of vision, and a lot of perseverance. Your energy limits what you can do with your time, so manage it wisely. Remember, it’s not about age, it is about skill set – work harder to acquire your skill set faster. With a strong skill set, you are better equipped to work with and manage a team. That team will become your biggest asset.
Be naturally curious
Passion alone is not enough. You have to prioritize an understanding of the business – from competence in team management, finances, operations, marketing, etc. Take the time to improve your business IQ. You have to be naturally curious and teach yourself new skills – that means signing up for a never-ending learning process. My commitment to continuous learning began shortly after my injury. After realizing the next athletic step was not in the cards for me, I knew I was going to have to shift my career goals to a place that would require me to take the next step mentally. Getting my MBA helped allowed me to strive toward my goal in owning my own remote health and wellness business. My continuous learning has not stopped since graduation, as I learn something new about the industry, my team and even myself every single day.
There are few things in the world that can humble you quicker than a career-ending catastrophic injury. As bleak and grim as things might seem, just understand there will always be a way to turn a seemingly hopeless situation into a prosperous opportunity. Know that you don’t have all the answers, so surround yourself with people who do. No one succeed in business alone, so build your team to bolster your success. Remember, people drive process and process drives profit – you need a phenomenal team working together to achieve greatness.