This is “Featured Soloist,” a ongoing feature that gives all of us a glimpse at how other solopreneurs operate their small businesses.
Today we meet Krista Stryker, who is based in San Francisco. If you would like to be the “Featured Soloist,” please send me an email.
Name of solopreneur:
Name of business and city:
12 Minute Athlete; San Francisco
Type of business
I run a website called 12 Minute Athlete that provides free, incredibly effective, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and awesome fitness motivation for athletes of all levels. I also recently launched Fitter Faster Stronger, an interval-training workout program that helps people get in the best shape of their life.
When did you officially go into business?
I first got the idea for my site in June of 2012, and worked on it behind the scenes for a good four months before first telling anyone about it in late September of that year. I’d always wanted to start an internet business, and had had a few blogs before, but nothing stuck. With 12 Minute Athlete, it was different—from day one, I was constantly thinking about how to make it an awesome resource and community for athletes of all levels. There’s not a day (or an hour, to be really honest) that goes by that I’m not thinking about what I can do to make it better and how to grow it to be as awesome as it can be.
Why did you start your own business?
I’m independent, stubborn, and resourceful—and have never, ever wanted to work for anyone else. I’ve tried it a few times, working as a journalist right out of college and later a personal trainer and a copywriter. But I always knew I wanted to have my own thing that I could do my way and not have to answer to anyone else. I also love to travel and really love the idea of being location-independent, which is part of the reason I’ve always wanted to have an Internet business rather than a more traditional one.
What was the best thing you did when you were starting up your business?
The very best thing I did was write three months of blog posts at the very beginning so that I didn’t have to think about the content when I officially launched—I could just focus on other aspects of the blog. I got that idea from reading Chris Guillebeau’s book, The $100 Startup, and it took so much pressure off me when first starting my blog/business. I’d highly recommend this approach to anyone starting a new Internet business.
What is a mistake that you made that you have learned from?
Waiting till everything was “perfect” before putting it out to the world. I learned pretty quickly that this gets you nowhere online and in business. As a solopreneur, you need to be constantly shipping, even if you feel it’s not 100% perfect.
What is your biggest current challenge in the business and what are doing to try to solve it?
I’m currently transitioning from being a freelance copywriter to making 12 Minute Athlete my full-time job. It’s a little challenging, since there are still some people out there who hate when blogs try and sell anything. But for the most part, I know I just need to stick with it and keep doing what I’m doing, and it’ll all work out.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months, I have a lot planned—I just released my first workout program, Fitter Faster Stronger, so that’s pretty exciting. I also have an iPhone app coming out in the next few months, which is going to absolutely rock (yes, I may be biased…).
Other than that, I just want to focus on growing the 12 Minute Athlete community, as well as inspiring and motivating as many people as possible to change their lives in a positive, healthy way.
Where do you want to be with the business in five years?
I’d like the 12 Minute Athlete community to grow, but not to become too big that it loses its core purpose. I have lots of really awesome programs and products and free resources in mind that I think will make the site even better. This stuff takes time, but it’s definitely hard to be patient as a solopreneur!
What are your main software programs?
Final Cut Pro, Audacity, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Action Method Online, and Evernote. I’m probably missing a few, but those are the ones I use on an almost daily basis.
What lifestyle choices have you had to make to stay in business?
I’m always wanting to invest in my business, so that means setting aside money that I might have used for other things such as vacations and fun experiences. But it’s totally worth it, in my mind.
What are your strategies for staying competitive?
Just to be completely, 100% myself. That’s it. I really believe that if I’m always passionate about what I do, the blog/business will stand out because there’s no one else exactly like me out there doing the same thing.
Do you need a second household income to support your lifestyle? (Is the business primary, or supplemental to the household?)
Yes, my husband has a full-time job as a designer, so that definitely helps pay our mortgage—for now at least.
If your business should fail, what is your fall-back position?
Honestly, I have no fall-back position. I feel like if there’s even a slight possibility I’ll fail, I won’t put my heart into my business. So I just don’t think of that as an option.
If you could start your career all over again, what would you do differently? Why?
I would have started a business sooner. I’m currently only 26 years old, but I feel incredibly behind. When I think of how different my life would be if I’d just started an Internet business sooner, it makes me sad. But, you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it.
What’s your advice for aspiring solopreneurs?
Never do something just for the money. Seriously. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter if you end up making a lot of money from it—you’ll hate it. Starting a business requires an immense amount of time and energy, and you’d honestly be better off getting a real job than doing something on your own. Then at least you could go home at night and go on vacation and not think about it.
Also, don’t be afraid to quit if what you’re doing doesn’t feel right. I used to be so hard on myself for quitting—but now I’m so glad I did, because if I’d kept that up I’d never be doing what I’m doing now.
Being a solopreneur is not an easy path to take. There’s no one to hold your hand or tell you what to do. You have to be stubborn, independent, and tough. There’s pretty much zero money in it at first, and the money takes longer than you’d expect to come. But if you can deal with all that—there’s absolutely nothing more rewarding in the entire world.
Are you glad you became a solopreneur? Why or why not?
Yes. I can’t emphasize this enough. Every time I think about how I get to call the shots, how I can work from anywhere I want, how I can make my business as awesome and helpful and unique as it can be—I nearly tear up from happiness. The thought of having a “real” job makes me sick to my stomach, it sounds so miserable.
As a solopreneur, I get to do what I love—help people feel strong and confident and fit and happy. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.