Balanced Place, based in Studio City, Calif., was launched in July 2008. Balanced Place starts where others put up their hands and stop: we will work tirelessly with you to bring the unconscious connection between the mind and body into your awareness – all ages and abilities are welcome.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching the business: In March of 2008, I had a dream while on vacation in Argentina that I would relocate to LA and open a studio with the goal being to help others find balance within their mind and body in a ‘retreat-like’ setting. In my dream, there were busloads of people lining up at the door of the studio and I welcomed everyone inside. In June of 2008, I moved my business to Los Angeles and within a month renamed it to Balanced Place.
Ideal customer: It is our job and mission to undo preconceptions about pain and possibility for anyone – men, women, teens, seniors, etc. You do not have to suffer; you do not have to accept pain; you can do more. We specialize in the possibilities of the body for everyone.
Landing first customer: I literally walked up and down Ventura Boulevard in the glaring hot summer sun introducing myself to anyone who would listen and offering a complementary assessment to any takers until one woman accepted and I scheduled a session for her at my studio the next day.
Measuring Success: When my clients are working with me, I feel successful when I’m able to get myself out of the way and make the session all about the person in front of me. As soon as clients started referring friends and describing their positive experiences working with me, it reassured me I was meant to do what I was doing, where I was doing it. Soon after opening Balanced Place, I met a client who had suffered from knee pain for a long time and after only seeing me for five sessions she was able to climb stairs without feeling unstable around her knee joint. A huge success!
Biggest Struggle: The economy. I opened a business in one of the worst economic climates and was able to overcome this challenge by offering a very niche type of service and going beyond the “cookie-cutter “approach of most fitness-based Pilates environments. Clients are not just a number here; they are unique individuals.
Surprise!: That I am so happy running it. I kept thinking I would tire of being an entrepreneur, but just the opposite happened: I love it more every day and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Getting Sales: The most successful promotion to date has been to offer a reduced rate for new clients on their first visit to Balanced Place. The retention rate and conversion into long-term clients has been roughly 90%. Also, my clients’ interest in utilizing social media outlets such as YELP, Facebook and Twitter has paid-off for me tremendously. Additionally, I recently hired an amazing publicist and have already seen traction in terms of interest from media and new potential clients.
What I wish I would’ve known: How hard it would be to find the right commercial space, how to negotiate a commercial lease and the importance of having fair representation.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: I find myself thinking about client sessions earlier in the day, particularly the ones with a post-rehab emphasis that may or may not have responded to specific exercises that way I wanted. However, as soon as I find myself obsessing on these details, usually after working a 14-hour day, I remind myself I need to recharge. Otherwise, how can I teach balance to others if I’m not practicing it in my own life?! I like to recharge and find balance by going for a hike, working out, listening to music or just sitting quietly with my thoughts to reflect on non-business related things.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: No, because I love what I do and I’m meant to be doing this, which is why it’s working. I truly can’t imagine doing anything else with my time.
Moving Forward: My biggest goal over the next 12 months is to share Balanced Place and my work with as many people as possible and to further refine the brand through new marketing collateral, PR, and customized small group sessions on specific topics such as posture, gait/foot mechanics, and of course, reduce shoulder and neck tension.
Pricing, Getting it Right: My advice is to believe in your own worth. Balance your pricing with what the market can bear and what you need to make a living enough for the standard you are accustomed to living. I try and offer numerous payment options for my clients and to reward customer loyalty.
Funding: I was very fortunate to have a small amount of savings to help with capital start-up costs and also have an amazing family who have encouraged my efforts and helped me in too many ways to count.
Must-read Online Resource: I really enjoy MindBodyGreen.com since they offer comprehensive articles on many modalities within the mind/body space.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: waking up excited (even at 5 a.m.) to go to work, being my own boss and selecting the people I want to work with.
If I had to start over again, I would: hired a business strategist prior to launching. I never imagined finding other instructors would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: : “Your only limit is your imagination. Trust your instincts and take a leap of faith like I did.”