What started out as a personal training company morphed into a multi-functional online venture thanks to the innovative push of AJ Hickey and his creative group at Hardleanbody.com, the online arm of Mount Olympus Conditioning. The company supplies vitamins, body building nutrients and health care products to fitness enthusiasts and it also functions as a retail chains with two outlets in Bossier City, Lousiana. Hickey is the Vice-President, In Charge of Marketing at Mt. Olympus Conditioning.
In an interview with eBrandz, the high-spirited entrepreneur speaks about his mantra for success, inspirations and future goals for the company.
Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
We are a real success story that went from zero to hero in a heartbeat. The name of our parent company is Mt. Olympus Conditioning. It began as a personal training company that went wild with concepts and with the idea of expanding its services through goal setting. We operate as a retail store by the name of The Perfect Blend. It is a nutrition supplements store that carries thousands of products, a smoothie bar, and a self serve yogurt bar. It has big screen TVs, custom bars, and plenty to shops with knowledgeable employees in a laid back atmosphere. We currently have 2 locations which are both situated in Bossier City, Louisiana.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
I am 27 years old and full of energy. A lot of people think that I have a business degree which I don’t. Instead, I’ve been blessed with opportunity and have learned everything I know from amazing business people around me. The difference in my journey has been what most people call good luck but I believe that I know when to seize a given opportunity with authority. I have gone from a debt trap of trying to support my family at 23 years old to owning 3 businesses and trying to find out what business I need to do next. My biggest achievement comes from company that went from a $272 investment into a retail store with world wide vending supplying vitamins in less than 2 years. We did not touch one profiting dollar from the company so that we could grow this idea into something bigger and bigger every month.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
Originally, this was a personal training company designed to undertake training classes in my gym. We realized that we could save money for our clients by providing them with supplement counseling and buying their products online for them. This practice continued till December 2008 when I sat down with my partners and discussed with them about possibly buying and selling supplements out of our gym in Bossier City, LA. In January 2009, with $272, I purchased a box of “fat burners” and started vending. We got a great response and we took every dollar that was profit and applied it back into the business. After 1 year we had a small warehouse and 2 offices which were full of products. We branched into a full retail store and expanded our services by vending online.
How important have good employees been to your success?
They have been as important as the idea. I look at good employees as the foundation for the success.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1. Never Quit!
2. Always follow through with your ideas
3. Stay focused on small goals to meet big ones.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
No way! I love what I have done and where I’m going.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Integrity, Management, and Teamwork.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I never give up on any idea that I have had in business. One of the biggest parts of being successful is following through with everything.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It has affected it in a positive way. In the beginning, you need to find a balance for your business life and family life. If you can separate your business life and family life, you will be able to manage both sides. Home is home and work is work!
What motivates you?
Great ideas. I love to learn and hear about success. I think people would agree that attitude can be contagious, so if I’m around successful, happy people then I’m pumped up.
How do you generate new ideas?
Talk to a lot of different people and ask for feedback. I also do a lot of research and try to come up with my own twist on things.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I really don’t have one because I always have a positive attitude. If I’m managing fear, then I’m not spending enough time looking at the positive sides of what I’m doing.
What are your ideals?
Honesty and never give up attitude.
How do you define success?
Happiness in whatever you do.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Always stay focused on your business. It is important to realize that it’s a daily grind and the success will be as good as you allow it to be.
Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
We started from absolutely nowhere and always put our money back into our business for future growth. However, we did obtain an investor due to the amount of growth in the short period of time.
How do you build a successful customer base?
Word of mouth. It is good to show the public that you are the real deal everyday!
How did you decide on the location for your business?
Traffic . We saw a great area in the growing health community.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
No. I believe in seizing the given opportunity and knowing how to ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions!
What book has inspired you the most?
I don’t have an inspiring book. However, I’m a huge James Patterson fan.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I never have a pattern to my day. I feel like there is always a surprise or opportunity in my week.
To what do you most attribute your success?
Success lasts in building a great team or network of contacts, always being honest with your team and customers, keeping positive, strong communication and being ready to handle success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I don’t have a most satisfying moment. I only have the wild story that I’m leaving behind.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Fear. I think everyone has a great idea at one time or another. Most people are scared to fall and that fear gets worse with age.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I listen to everyone and see what makes sense for my business. Word of mouth has been the best, thus far.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Not having good enough documentation or being structured enough. I have lost thousands of dollars through assumptions that something was good.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
You can’t! That’s why they’re mistakes. Just be ready to pay for your mistakes
What are your hobbies? What makes you happy?
Family time and sports are my top two interests. I love being with my family and I love watching and playing sports.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur? T
Time and money are the top dogs. I think you have to be willing to sacrifice time and money to grow.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Local companies that have a great feel- good story. There are fair few so it’s hard to name one. On a national or growth level, I’d have to say Anytime Fitness is impressive.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
I see myself having a big impact in the health and fitness industry. I want to see myself telling the story for years to come.