Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans : Big Fish Power Yoga opened its doors in 2010 with a mission to create a culture of leadership and service using power yoga as its medium. Every class taught is full of sweat, challenge, fun and community – our Team empowers every student to step fully into the life they want – and it all starts on the mat! Now, two studio locations offering more than sixty classes weekly, we are committed to lead and create leaders.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans : Founder of Big Fish, Mary Lyn Jenkins, graduated from Auburn University with degrees in Art and Journalism. After seven years in the editorial world of design, she spent ten years on the West Coast as a set designer – designing sets up and down the coast from Seattle to San Francisco, LA and everywhere in between. Introduced to yoga as an opportunity to ‘do something together with her husband’ it became her passion. A move to the other coast and a new mom, a career change was needed. Teaching grew from her part-time hobby to her fulltime mission. Big Fish has been voted Jacksonville’s Best Yoga studio three years consecutively and has grown to be a leader in partnerships with local non-profits. Mary Lyn was on the cover of the national publication, Yoga Journal, August 2016 and she and her Team continue to be committed to expand excellence in the industry.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: After a move from the Pacific Northwest to Northeast Florida, a new baby and an economy crash, there was really nothing secure. My career as a set designer was on the other side of the country and all I had was my yoga training, a little bit of teaching from Seattle – and a whole new landscape. My husband encouraged me to step into something new and supported me every step of the way. My desire to become a part of this community was my inspiration to start Big Fish. It has been challenging – and worth it.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: 1- Work, work, work. 2- Expect nothing in return until at least three years of your time has been invested into your work. 3- If you start getting comfortable, get uncomfortable fast.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Determined drive, know your ‘why’, stay true to your ‘why’ in everything you do.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: I stop working only to sleep.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: Faith, my husband’s support and my children’s joy.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: Being committed to excellence in our product and allowing word of mouth to spread that. Social Media has become a great platform now, as well.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: I scraped together everything I had – remember, I was shifting careers in my thirties, so I had saved up a little bit (not intentionally for a start up) that was enough to put towards the first studio and necessary start up costs. When we grew, I was fortunate to get a loan from my Dad – currently paying it off. For our second location, I was able to take out a small line of credit that will be paid off this year. Debt is the death of me – I am committed to getting clear in the next two years.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success? Look at the long line vs. the fast track. I’m only now realizing what’s possible after seven years – BIG BIG vision that wasn’t available to me when I first started. Had I given up early on because of the grind, I would be missing out on a lot of fun stuff ahead.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: I will have completed my book. We will be the leader in health and wellness in the state of Florida with incredible partners’ support. As a result, Jacksonville will be on the map as a lifestyle and wellness destination. I will be speaking publicly on self-care, empowerment and inspiring all ages to get up and move through video, tv, and audio avenues.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Any small business that has stayed true to its mission, vision and values and grown year to year with those values as its anchor while committed to excellence in their product and guest experience. Local Businesses include Bold Bean, Taco Lu, and Rosie True.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Good employees are the heart beat of the business. It is the single greatest factor to the success of the business.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: We project far in advance (at least a year) for what we want to create and enroll guests into. So I hate giving up because usually there has been a lot of planning and vision behind each idea. However, when we see that something is falling flat, I’m not afraid to pull it. I have learned to pull things if necessary – and tweak to make it better – then reintroduce from my learning. Make it more clear, be more strategic, and recognize what was missing before so the idea can become a success.
Q. What motivates you?
Ans: I can hate my workload on a day when I’m feeling sluggish or a little less inspired, and when I get around people, I step onto the mountain top. I am most motivated by people who want to connect, communicate and create with me.
Q. What are your ideals?
Ans: Excellence, service, Team, growth, creation, leadership
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Through Team, conversation, images, reading, listening to others and learning, and always looking for what’s missing.
Q. How do you define success?
Ans: Living daily life exactly as you wished it could be.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Stay committed to your mission. Be impeccable with your word. Communicate and grow relationship with individuals. Know them and invite them in as ‘family.’ Everyone wants to belong. And everyone wants something real. A customer base is built by living into this every day.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: ALWAYS creating. And the more I create, the less I worry about what people think.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: I think it’s still ahead – but for now, I think I was most satisfied leading my first class in the first studio space – knowing that I had scraped money together, put my ideas and creativity out for all to see, and people showed up to be a part of that opening day.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: Working for someone else allows anyone to take the back seat and ‘just get by’. I know I did it when I worked for big business – and I consider myself to be a team player. But I could also ‘take it easy’ when I wanted to not push myself. As an entrepreneur, it never stops. Ideas, creating, accounting, conversations, bigger vision, details, guests, cleaning, on and on and on. As an entrepreneur, I am solely responsible for what the energy of the space is and bringing that energy to my space, my Team and out to every guest experience.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization?
Ans: How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture? We are a culture of leadership and service, tons of fun and living into bigger possibility for our beaches and city. There is a forward momentum every day to be great. This culture came from my own drive – but it quickly became bigger because of bringing the right team players up with me. The best thing to remember is no one can do it alone. I may have started it – and I don’t do anything by myself now.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: I wouldn’t have borrowed money from my Dad. I don’t know where it would’ve come from – and this is the one thing I wish I could change.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: I have a pretty inconsistent ‘flow’ daily. So my husband steps in to support kids pick up / drop off, sports, etc. I swing in at odd times to make sure I get to be with them all – and we basically make it work. My 2017 commitment is to spend more time at home and it’s already started. I’m doing more video from home and having more meetings at my home office. This supports me in a huge way.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: I’m in my forties so I’m less and less afraid of much of anything. My insecurities are few simply because I’m moving too much to worry about them. If I had to say I have a great fear, it would be something happening to one of my children or to my husband. Managing fear is easy – I don’t focus on it. I expand what I want to have happen instead.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: I wanted to be able to bike from my home to my ‘office’. This created a small geographical circle. I’m so thankful now – I can get to my office in less than 5 minutes.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: When you look at those entrepreneurs who have ‘done it’ – I think there are definitely common threads in them all. I think the primary thing being focused determination and knowing why they are doing what they are doing. Equally, I think entrepreneurs know what they want to say and who they want to say it to. This focus keeps expanding their vision.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: I would love to sit down and talk to C.S. Lewis or Joseph Campbell. Both were incredible authors and philosophers who wrote some of the most inspiring work – every word is applicable today.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My Dad – no doubt
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: There’s a new one every month (not a good answer, but seriously – I don’t have just one!)
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: Every mistake has been from not asking enough questions. With the studios, big mistakes include not doing background checks on employees; not letting potential employees do more talking than I do during the interview process; Holding onto the wrong employee or teacher too long instead of letting them go.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: Always learn from your history. Get clearer. Develop clean policy and speak as if every word is a million dollar word. Get rid of the fluff and let your words matter so things are happening because of your word and there’s no room for question.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: I love walking on the beach. I love my dog and I love a day or night with my husband doing anything – good food, cooking, sitting on the porch reading, spending time with my kids or talking with extended family.
Q. What makes you happy?
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: The biggest worldly sacrifice is probably a stable income. I’ve done things without pay, at a lesser pay, and oftentimes with not knowing if I will ever get something consistent for my efforts. You can create for the sake of money – but I realize I started creating for the sake of fun and passion; loads of money isn’t the return.