Starting Your Business While Keeping Your Full-Time Job

Have you ever thought about starting a business while you’re still employed by a company?  

When is the right time to make the move?  

You may the entrepreneurial bug, but are not sure when or where to start?

What will your company think if you start a business while still working?

Meet Dennis Lauderback.

Dennis is a currently employed as a Division Manager for CAI (Computer Aid, Inc.) – an Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, for over17 years.  Mr. Lauderback is also an entrepreneur.  He’s the co-founder and co-owner of SPINERGY Fitness—a two-year old, Northville-based, specialized fitness studio featuring state of the art equipment and entertainment systems focused on Health & Wellness.

SPINERGY Fitness features simulated techniques (outdoor biking, rowing, et la.) which duplicate the real life experiences and are focused on your health and total body workouts.

Its unique concept features music and video as part of the experience and a high-quality sound system  combined with a hi-definition video wall which supports their slogan, “Your Fitness Comes to Life”.

I recently interviewed Mr. Lauderback on his thoughts regarding managing a business while still working in a corporate environment.

Please tell us about you and your business partner, including how you met and why/how you joined forces.

DL:  My partner and I met about 5 years ago while working out at LifeTime Fitness. Both of us were pretty religious about getting up at 5am to get our workout in before the day got started.  I firmly believe if you start your day out by getting your blood flowing you will be much more productive throughout the day.  Your energy level will increase and you will have more focus.

We both have a passion for fitness and we thought about some ideas that could be a niche in the marketplace.  Anytime you go into business with a partner; you look for certain qualities in that person and I believe one of the most important quality is trust.  To this day, we have an excellent business partnership; we are very good friends, we trust each other and we have the same goals and objectives for our business….we could not have asked for better business partners.  In October 2011, we decided to open up a Spinning Studio (Indoor Cycling) called S Fitness in downtown Northville.

You both have corporate jobs and yet, you’ve decided to move into entrepreneurship.  Please share your story.

DL:  I think many of us think about starting our own business every day; however, we struggle with timing, investment (do I have the funds to support my new venture), and more importantly, can I handle the risk.  To be an entrepreneur you have to be a risk taker and get out of your comfort zone. What I mean getting out of your comfort zone is trying something you have not done before;  challenge yourself to go to the next level in your career……many of us do the same thing every day and it gets boring. Hence, both Dave and I said, let’s for go for it…..if you don’t’ swing the bat you will never hit the ball, so we gave it a shot and we are not looking back.

Isn’t it unusual for people who have full-time jobs to take the “plunge”? How does your employer feel about this move?

DL:  I really don’t look at it as taking the “plunge” I look at it as an opportunity for people to do something they want to do.  Something that is fun, exciting, and rewarding. Since we are in the fitness industry I can’t tell you the feedback we get about how we changed lives from looking and feeling better to developing friendships.  Our goal is to create a community where people meet, develop friendships and have fun working out together.

Many of my colleagues and customers from my current job are very excited for me to do something new and exciting.

What is your business model and why did you focus on Health & Wellness?

Our Model is simple:

·       Provide Highly Specialized Training

·       Enable a Friendly Community of Client/ Friends

·       Deliver Strong Results

·       Give Clients More than Just Exercise (share knowledge re: stretching, eating, focus, commitment etc.)

·       Build a Relationship with Each Client

Health and wellness is just blossoming as an industry.  Many organizations are finding that a dollar spent on fitness for their employees can result in thousands of dollars back in their pocket.

Are there plans to expand your concept?  

Yes.  Since its inception SPINERGY was built to be replicated into markets that fit our core demographic. While considering Downtown Detroit as our next move, we are working to find the proper balance between location, cost, core demographic and timing.

What’s behind your decision to expand downtown Detroit and what’s the timing?  

Detroit is working hard to find its place with young graduates and professionals as a destination for education, work and urban living. Dan Gilbert and the Bedrock team are passionate about establishing a place to work and live that competes with the likes of Chicago, New York, and L.A. Albeit slow, the trends are moving in the right direction and Detroit’s Hip factor continues to rise with those groups of people. These are the same types of people that like to workout and stay fit, making this a great location for our SPINERGY Brand just before the tipping point is reached.

What advice would you give to those who are thinking about starting a business and how did you overcome naysayers, if any?

DL:  It starts with a vision and a positive attitude because the odds are against you of succeeding.  You need a roadmap of where you want to be and how to get there.  The first year is the hardest because of the unknowns, in addition to, doing your corporate job, balancing family life and kid’s activities while trying to start a new business.  One of the keys to success is having great team member’s work with you; and we have Shauna Parzuchowski who is basically our day-to-day operations manager and we have the best fitness instructors around.  Without our instructors, we would not be in business.

Entrepreneurs sometimes focus on their business all day, every day. Why is exercise important for their well-being?

DL:  I can write a book on why you should exercise.  However, the #1 and #2 reasons people don’t work out are: 1) I am too tired and 2) I don’t have enough time.  First of all those are lame excuses, if people workout 20 minutes a day or even a walk they will feel better and less stressed.  The reason people are tired is because they never get their heart rate up and blood flowing.  As for time, people need to make time for themselves; get up 20 minutes earlier, workout at lunch or after work.  I don’t understand how people don’t work out to be honest; the benefits are tremendous.

Work-life balance is an issue. What tips do you have for those looking for it and how can exercise help you achieve it?

DL: Many of us live in the same rat race, get the kids to school, go to work, and drive to football or soccer practice, etc….it never ends for many of us. However, work-life balance is becoming less of an issue in Corporate America as many organizations are offering more wellness programs.  Corporate America (some not all) is recognizing the fact that many people are being overworked and have too much stress; by having wellness programs will help their employees be healthier, more productive and live longer.   At Spinergy, we are also offering wellness programs with some local organizations.