What do you do? 

After I retired from the military where I was a combat medic, I wanted to start my own business. I've wanted to open a gym focused on strength training, but I really didn't know where to begin or who to talk to.  As a Veteran, I knew there was possibly some business help through the VA. I found some information from the SBA and the officer I spoke with recommended that I contact SCORE. I have worked with my mentor to develop my business plan from scratch and I am in the stage of securing the financing to make it happen. The gym's name is Berserker Barbell, named for the strong Viking culture and influence here in Minnesota.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I've been in I've been lifting weights since I was in high school, and I'm 36 years old now. It's one of those hobbies that's developed into a passion over the years.  I had the idea to cater a gym towards powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting in the Rochester area. I do believe there's a market for it. We just don't have the offering here. I also just finished a Master's in sports and exercise science.  Not only do I have the personal experience, but I also have the educational experience to go along with it to have a better understanding of the human body and what happens during exercise and in what ways resistance training can help.

What's special about your business? 

We have health-related issues in the United States many of them are due to people being sedentary and just lack of movement as they age.  Even younger people these days having mobility and strength issues. I think strength training is a very important component that oftentimes gets overlooked in favor of cardiovascular fitness (which is also important). I think most healthcare facilities don't emphasize strength training especially with patient populations. I believe that it's a very important component that could help, not just athletes, but people who are wanting to get stronger and people who are wanting to move better.

CrossFit kind of started this trend where you where it's not just a gym, it's like a community.  You go there because you're there with like-minded people who are into the same or similar kinds of physical activities that you are. And I think that that's the future of the industry, and what I hope to achieve with Berserker Barbell.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner? 

It's a very long process and it takes a lot of work.  I could not tell you how many hours I've put on this project, but it's in the hundreds already. It's a grind. 

If you don't have money to start, if you're not born into money or you don't come across a good chunk of money, it's really about building those relationships with bankers and trying to find sources of financing.  It's not easy, there's so many hoops to jump through.

What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
How SCORE helped. 

Like I mentioned before, I had no experience with this. I reached out to SCORE and was connected with a mentor right away. Steve gave me a call and we started the process of basically building my business proposal and starting on financials as well.  I knew nothing about how to do a business proposal, but Steve really guided me along with the template with what's needed in each section,  how it should sound, and then the financials, which I knew even less about.  I did as much as I could on my own as well, but he's been just so good in terms of explaining stuff, walking me through the Excel spreadsheet for the financials. He basically just babied me through this whole thing, which is great. Steve encouraged that I apply for the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to get mentored by those folks as well. I was basically done with the business proposal and a good chunk of the way through the financials in March, and I got accepted into the Prosperity Initiative program which provides free coaching and training to minority and military veteran entrepreneurs.

I'm now in the stage of viewing several properties, I even put down a letter of intent for one of the properties. but unfortunately, someone else snagged it up. I am meeting with some more folks to discuss alternatives to financing my business.  I'm really glad that things like SCORE and the Prosperity Initiative exist because I wouldn't know how to get this moving forward without their guidance.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

It is hard work and you have grow your idea. It's like a plant. If you don't water, it will just kind of shrivel.  And with the idea itself, even if you have a good seed, if you put it dirt where it won't take, then it's not going to go anywhere. I would say go through the process of creating a business plan.  I think it'd be very beneficial for a lot of people to learn about what it takes to build a business. Learn if your idea could really be profitable.

My Mentors