072: Aged 32 in 2007 with 2 kids under 3, 2 mortgages launched a unique business for kids in fitness and entertainment. 1 FTE to 10 with 100 contractors providing 1,300 classes each week to 15,000 kids in 5 States (Donna McColl)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

January 17, 2021

In this episode, I interview Donna McColl, the Director at Happy Feet Fitness, a children’s educational fitness program for 20 months to 5-year-olds. It was created by Donna and her husband Cam McColl after her husband had nagged her for ten years. She was 32 with two kids (9 and 3) and two mortgages when they started it in 2007. The business grew from one full-time employee to ten with 100 contractors operating in five states in Australia. They run 1,300 classes per week with 5,000 students. Their funding has been from a $10,000 loan from her father-in-law which they paid back quickly and then grew solely from profits. 

During Covid, they went online and 6,000 of their 15,000 students subscribed. She felt she had succeeded when they reached their long term goal of 50 centers in the first year and won the Telstra Business Owner award. She feels the hardest thing about growing a small business is finding the right people to join your team. What Donna would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “Trust you’ll overcome any challenges in some way” Get ready to be blown away by Donna’s small business ownership wisdom. 

This Cast Covers:

  • Teaching kids about the benefits of health and fitness in a super fun and entertaining way.
  • Donna and Cam’s amazing journey from traveling the world to starting Happy Feet Fitness.
  • Starting out with 4 centers and reaching their long term goal of 50 centers within 12 months.
  • How winning the Telstra Business Owner Award fueled her confidence.
  • Why they focus on social media as their core marketing platform.
  • Paying back their startup capital loan in lightning speed to bootstrap to date.
  • The rewarding nature of working with 20 months to 5-year-old kids.
  • How Covid negatively affected their business and how they adapted and thrived through the pandemic.
  • The challenge of trying to find enough awesome people to be part of their team.
  • Always listening to the ideas that their team members pitch.
  • Going through the hardship she feared most for her business and coming out of it stronger and more experienced.
  • Allowing their team to grow organically by passing on responsibilities that they demonstrate they can handle.
  • Leading by example by upholding and living by your values and the values of your small business.
  • How she looks at work-life balance so she can achieve some form of it.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“Word of mouth is the most powerful thing you can have, but it’s not simple and it takes time to get traction” – Donna McColl

“Get to know your target audience and think outside the box” – Donna McColl

“Every business wants fast growth in their journey” – Donna McColl

“Try not to worry so much” – Donna McColl

“Kickass culture starts with you as a leader” – Donna McColl

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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