How a failed assignment inspired a multimillion dollar business

- February 3, 2020 3 MIN READ

In today’s ‘find a mentor’ start-up culture, it’s easy to place significant weight on the remarks of an expert or advisor, however, there are times when entrepreneurs should back their vision no matter what, writes Get Going founder Ethan Fleming.

A few years ago as part of a Cert III & IV assignment, I wrote a business plan for a unique mobile personal training company – only to have it shot down in flames by my lecturer. Fast forward, and in less than three years we have turned this concept into one of Australia’s fastest scaling mobile PT chains, with annual revenues on track to beat $2 million.

People often ask how I was able to totally reject the advice of a qualified expert, and birth a multimillion-dollar enterprise from an “impossible” idea. The answer is simple, but effective: narrow-minded resilience, true mental stamina, and bold discipline.

Narrow-minded resilience

Some may call it naive, but even back then there was genuinely no part of me which doubted whether the business would work – even in the face of my lecturer’s warning. If anything, the rejection fuelled my fire. Looking at the achievements of several successful founders, I am reminded to take the advice of those who are ‘walking in your path of desire’, and treat others with caution.

These days everyone is happy to give advice on something, and choosing what advice to take separates the do-ers from the thinkers. I believe there is immense power in truly backing a goal, no matter what. When a large vision mixes with narrow-minded resilience, the results often defy naysayers.

Choosing to believe in our business concept with such narrow-minded resilience, is what allowed me to persuade key individuals to become our first staff members. It was like making fire with chopsticks, but they came onboard! Had I not believed in the concept with such resilience, these first key hires probably would not have felt compelled to take the risk.

True mental stamina

Staying committed to our business concept, even in moments of hardship, has been one of the core reasons for our business’ fast-growth and success. Choosing to remain mentally committed, even when others around us express doubts, has allowed us to steamroll ahead, where others may have paused. This mental stamina has allowed us to quickly invest more in marketing, hire more staff, and expand our model with franchising.

It’s normal to have concerns and worries in business, but I believe if you don’t truly back yourself as an entrepreneur, you have failed from the start. If you don’t have the mental stamina to believe in the concept in the face of occasional hiccups, how will anyone else? Your future business partners, future staff, future investors, future customers?

Our mental stamina is one of the reasons everyone in our organisation believes they are always on the winning team, and it’s a huge driver of our culture, and in turn business success.

Bold discipline

A plan without action is pointless, and a commitment to continual self-education is one of the reasons why our business has pivoted so quickly, and accelerated ahead. Personally, I’m up at 4.30am every weekday, and am a voracious audiobook listener.

The more an entrepreneur learns, the more they’re able to give to their business – it takes a hell of a lot of discipline to remain focused on self-education whilst balancing other ‘founder duties.’ In the last three years of growing Get Going PT, I’ve benefited from over 3,276 hours of audiobooks and podcasts.

Like many people, my mother had a habit of telling me “anything is possible”, however, somewhere along the way most adults start believing this statement is fiction. Starting our company as a 20-something with nothing more than resilience, stamina and discipline is one of the wisest things I’ve ever done, and is worth more to me than the advice of the lecturer who thought we couldn’t… or the cost of their course.

There is always a lesson to learn from someone’s advice, but it isn’t always what they intended.


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