When Your Life Changes…Sometimes What You Do for a Living Can Too!
We all get good ideas now and then. Ideas about products or services that excite us. Ideas that make life better or work easier or our bank accounts fatter.
Most of the time we do nothing more than talk about these ideas. And dream about how our lives could change once they become realities. Talking and dreaming are easy to do. Making ideas real – that’s the hard part.
But you can make that process much easier if you take a Ready…Fire…Aim approach to the process. That starts with asking: “What is the fastest way I can bring this idea to market?”
In the case study that follows, Jason Holland tells the story of Lisa Druxman, who had a good idea: how moms with small children can get in great shape by pushing their kids around in strollers. It’s something they have to do anyway, she reasoned. What if I could make it fun for them? Then they could kill two birds with one stone – spending quality time with their kids while getting in great shape.
As Jason explains, Lisa was stalled for a while trying to figure out how to make her idea work in the context of health club programs. But that was complicated and risky. To make any money with it, she’d have to sell it to a large chain. But even if she could do that, how could she be sure that they wouldn’t steal her idea and pay her little or nothing for it?
She jumped over that obstacle by going directly to end users. By selling her idea to small groups of moms as a franchise model, she was able to “bring it to the market” quickly and under the radar of the big industry people. Within just months of testing it out, she was able to refine both the product itself and the marketing method. As Jason explains, her business grew into a million-dollar enterprise in almost no time flat.
Would you rather work 60 hours a week for someone else or 20-30 hours as head of your own company, spending the rest of your time with your kids?
After the birth of her son in 2001, Lisa Druxman wasn’t eager to go back to grueling work weeks as general manager of a health club. So, with a couple of hundred dollar investment, she started Stroller Strides, an exercise program for mothers.
She never intended it to be anything more than a fun way to get back in shape, meet other moms, and make a little money. But the company grew faster than she ever imagined, opening 200 franchises in 42 states in six years and bringing in $1 million in revenue last year.
The ironic thing, says Druxman, is that before Stroller Strides she had spent years and tens of thousands of dollars on planning for a high end gym/spa for women that was never got off the drawing board.
Word of mouth marketing and some ads in OB/GYN offices were the only advertising in the beginning, but intense local and national media coverage (Druxman says reporters couldn’t get enough of the story) brought a lot of attention and a flood of calls from other moms who wanted to work with the company in their hometowns. This led to a careful, but relatively rapid expansion and the adoption of the franchise model.
Druxman drew on her 12 years of experience in the fitness industry when starting Stroller Strides. The program is simple and can be done anywhere there is room for a group of moms with strollers. Ninety-nine percent of her franchisees are moms that work from home and meet clients on site, which can be anything from a park to a mall.
She started the business with practically no business plan, and although she now has office space and a staff of 12, she originally worked from home. With growth came new challenges: balancing a larger workload and motherhood, financial hurdles related to being a private company and the transition to franchising, especially the need to learn a new business model.
Despite the steady growth of the business, Druxman has always stuck to the idea that moms come first. Her corporate office employees generally work 20-30 hours a week to make sure there is time for the kids.
“I have an amazing team. I’m probably the opposite of a micro-manager. We all get out jobs done. Every person knows their role. There is no hand-holding,” says Druxman.
Druxman credits her determination for her success.
“Like any successful entrepreneur I believe I can accomplish everything. The resources are out there. I can do anything because I have the energy. Too many people are fear-based. I’m not afraid to fail. Failure just makes me stronger and smarter,” says Druxman.
A book on the Stroller Strides exercise program will hit market soon, and a video or TV series might be in the works. Druxman says any new venture must follow the vision of the original program and be cross-promotional.
“There is no shortage of ideas, just a shortage of time,” says Druxman.