ATLANTA — Forbes magazine ranked metro Atlanta as the fifth-best city in the U.S. for women starting businesses. A local businesswoman has found success with a fitness business that works with expectant and new mothers.
Oh Baby! Fitness was born after Clare Schexnyder gave birth to her daughter Sofia 10 years ago.
“I had crippling postpartum depression. I didn’t leave my house. I didn’t shower. I didn’t want to do anything, and I really didn’t want to have anything with my child,” Schexnyder said. “But I was a control freak who wouldn’t let anyone else touch her, so it was a terrible combination.”
A parent support group that included exercise changed everything.
“It saved my life,” Clare said.
It inspired the former journalist to leave a producing career of 17 years at CNN to pursue her new passion.
“We don’t have villages anymore,” Schexnyder said. “We don’t have communities. So if I can offer you a community and safe exercise in a way to heal and recover and get strong for mommyhood, I’m going to do that.”
Her initial investment was $7,500. As business grew, she partnered with Kathleen Donahoe.
“We’ve made money every year. We’ve had 20 percent growth every year,” Schexnyder said. “I mean, that’s unbelievable. We’ve never been in the red. We’ve always paid off our bills.”
Now in 13 states through licensing, Clare hopes to be in every state by the end of the year, providing something she believes is critical:
“You spend with your doctor, maybe 10-15 minutes, and the doctor is really focused on the baby, not focused on the mom,” she said. “Our client is the mom.”
In addition to their 50 weekly classes in facilities across Atlanta, they also sell instructor training globally and have three apps
“It’s been an amazing journey and one that I never would have expected to happen to me,” Schexnyder said.
WEB EXTRA | Tips on starting your own business from Clare Schexnyder, Founder and CEO, Oh Baby! Fitness www.ohbabyfitness.com
1. Define what makes your business different from others. What makes you special? What can you do no one else offers? This is KEY. Make it a central part of your marketing and mission statement. Make sure people know what makes you unique. Surprisingly few people do this effectively. You may know what makes you special, but if you don’t trumpet that information, no one else will know it.
2. Research your industry. Know what you need to have in place to get started. What training do you need? What supplies do you need to get started? How much will that cost? How many people do you need to help you accomplish your starting goals? Can you start very small and grow incrementally? Have clear phases of growth in mind. What’s the least you can spend.. and what can you reasonably spend to get underway? What’s your break even point?
3. Be able to talk about your business passionately. You need to be able to sell your business, not only to potential clients, but to investors and people who may want to work with you or for you. If you can’t get other people excited about your product or business idea, it’s NOT a good idea. You will be talking about your business today, and tomorrow.. and every day after that!! Be excited about it and SELL IT, every time you talk about it. Be able to list all the positives about your product. Have more than just a couple positives on your list!
4. Gather together a team of advisers. Make sure you have a good legal person, a good financial advisor, a business advisor (take advantage of your local Small Business Development Center (Here’s the link: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc). They give FREE advice and have workshops. For me, it was so helpful to have someone to talk to. It’s a process. ASK questions. ASSESS. ACT. And then ASK questions again and assess and act. Take it in bite-size chunks. Don’t try to solve the whole problem in one pass.
5. Have a plan. I never wrote a business plan on paper, but I had a clear idea of who my client was, how I was going to market to her, and how my business was unique. I also had a set amount of money to spend, and if I went over that, I wasn’t going to continue. I think some people get stymied by the idea of writing out a business plan. It’s extremely daunting. But if you can take a look at all the questions a common business plan includes, and know 75% of the answers for YOUR proposed business, I think it’s OK to get started. But spend some time answering the basic questions to prove to yourself you know your direction, market and growth objectives.