Internet Resources Key to Success for West Little Rock Gym Owner

CrossfitWhen Jeff Jucha, the self-taught founder, owner and coach of West Little Rock CrossFit, decided to take his fitness expertise from his home garage where he trained a small group of clients at no cost to a for-profit business that now boasts 125 monthly paying clients in a 6,000 sq. ft. building, he knew it would take a lot of research, a strong personal drive to succeed and an ability to overcome his fears to make it successful. And one year after opening West Little Rock CrossFit, Jucha is comfortable in his success. West Little Rock CrossFit is a fitness training facility designed to incorporate the functional movements of competitive athletes into the daily fitness routine for the general population, all in a fun environment. The facility doesn’t rely on traditional gym equipment such as stair climber and treadmill machines. Instead, clients use dumbbells, kettlebells, jump ropes and rings. After quickly outgrowing his home garage set up and growing tired of working for someone else at another local gym that’s now no longer in business, Jucha relied on his leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit to take the next step and move to an established commercial space and begin charging clients. The transition of moving his clients from a free service to a fee-based service was something that was not a problem for Jucha since his clients already saw the value in his leadership. He inspired them to maintain their drive to live a healthy lifestyle. “We didn’t lose anyone in transitioning from a free service to a paid service,” explained Jucha. “Everyone was actually very supportive and helped me to grow the business by referring their friends and family.” To gain the skills necessary to start a small business, Jucha relied on the Internet, mentorship from some of his business-owner clients, as well as resources available to him at his local libraries. Jucha relied heavily on iTunes U, which he feels is an “excellent, and very professional-level” online resource that offers users free, 24/7 access to lectures, videos, and podcasts from some of the leading universities. Crossfit“I’ve always been a leader,” Jucha said. “It’s not about having resources. It’s about finding the resources, because they are out there. You have to have the drive to find the resources, whether its books, the Internet or the gaining knowledge from people you know. The wisdom of the world is at your fingertips if you just look for it.” Jucha also counts the advice he received from clients, including successful entrepreneurs and business leaders as an integral part of his success. “An hour of time with someone who has ‘been there and done that’ is more valuable than hours of just reading about business,” Jucha said. Once he launched his business in June 2012, Jucha set about efficiently marketing his business with very little money set aside for marketing. He quickly learned a lesson on marketing 101 but also had some marketing wins as well. “I had 50 yard signs produced and put them at major intersections around town,” Jucha said. “It was just our name and logo. We were dumb and didn’t put the phone number on them.” The signs still proved successful in driving name recognition. Jucha credits positive word of mouth, a successful Groupon deal, social media and Google Adwords all with helping him to successfully market his business. While the Groupon deal didn’t necessarily drive a lot of monthly customers from the coupon, it did provide tremendous exposure to his gym’s website through Groupon’s extensive outreach to its clients. “What we didn’t expect is that within the first two days of the Groupon deal, our website went from not showing up in Google results, to showing up on the first page when you searched for ‘fitness in Little Rock,’” Jucha said. The biggest challenge Jucha faced as he opened his new business was the newfound stress he was now under to have responsibility for keeping his employees paid. He now has five employees who depend on him, and his fear of not being successful enough to meet payroll along with the many other bills small business face, was a challenge early on. Jeff Jucha“In the beginning, the stress of being responsible for other people was difficult to manage,” Jucha said. “It can look impossible. But as the business owner, you make it work. It took time for me to become comfortable with that role. You have to learn to manage that stress.” The upside of Jucha being able to overcome his initial stress has paid off. He now says he’s proud that he has been able to create jobs and stability for his employees and has enough to reinvest in the business. And he’s most proud to be able to help so many people stay fit. “It started with an idea that I refused to give up on. Now it’s tangible. I can see our gym and the benefits it gives to our clients,” Jucha said. “I get that feeling of accomplishment.”