Born and raised in St. Albert, Alberta, Meghan Schech calls herself the “nerdy theatre kid” who commuted into Edmonton throughout high school so she could attend Victoria School of the Performing and Visual Arts. After her “gap year” she still didn’t know what she wanted to do in terms of post-secondary education so she took the money she saved for university and moved to San Francisco for four months to train full-time for aerial circus. Eventually Meghan attended NAIT for medical laboratory assisting which has led her to having, what she would explain as: “the world’s most bizarre resume.”
Through all her experiences, Meghan has been always been a very driven person which she thinks is routed from having her mother passing away when she was only ten years old. “That sense of mortality has pushed me to say yes to any opportunity that I find exciting and has given me the courage to make big, scary life changes when necessary,” she shares. “The fear of regret has been a huge motivational factor for me throughout my life.”
This drive is what motivated Meghan into pursuing her passion and starting her own business, CircoFit, a small aerial arts studio located in Edmonton, Alberta. CircoFit coaches adults for aerial skills, straps, rope and static trapeze, and prides itself on the company culture they’ve created.
Although starting a business is never easy for any new entrepreneur, Meghan found that being a female starting a business has come with its own set of obstacles. She explained that one of the hardest things to overcome as a new entrepreneur has been social conditioning. “Self-doubt, vocal inflections that make me sound unsure of myself, aversion to confrontation, you name it,” she explains. “Even though I’m aware of these things, it’s a struggle to not let them rule me. I have a lifetime of being groomed to deflect to men and I’m sure it could take a lifetime or more to undo that, but I’ve come a long ways already.”
Despite the difficulties Meghan has had with self-doubt, overall she has felt incredibly privileged to be a business owner in this industry in Edmonton specifically. She shared that the thriving community of women entrepreneurs in Edmonton has made her feel like everyone is in this together.
Meghan shared with us a few tips for women who want to grow a business like CircoFit:
My first and foremost piece of advice to any aspiring entrepreneur is to have a solid plan for self-care. Nothing could have prepared me for the stress I experienced of four months leading up to CircoFit’s opening. There’s inevitably a pressure cooker period, where everything is happening all at once and it’s just decision, after decision, after decision to be made, and YOU are the one doing everything and putting out all the fires. On top of that, the indescribable financial risk, and it can be very isolating. I had to lean on my support system more than I ever have before and I’m thankful every day that I had those close friends and my dad and step-mom to keep me sane, or at least sane enough.
I’m out of the pressure cooker period, but I still have to be reminded now and then to take some time off for mental health. With the importance of social media in my business, it’s hard for me to separate from my work. Often I’ll check emails from bed as soon as my alarm goes off, and later that night I’ll be scheduling social media posts before turning out the lights. It’s pretty unhealthy admittedly. Whenever I start noticing stress symptoms build up I know it’s time for a day away from business stuff to let my brain take a rest from work mode
Hire a professional for your branding
Coming from a theatre background, there are many things in my studio that are do-it-yourself or done with a low budget, but two things that I’d recommend spending the money on are a professional photographer for promo pictures and a professional designer for your logo.
Building your own website isn’t too hard, but it will look like crap if you don’t have five to ten cohesive, high quality photos. Don’t cheap out and don’t be tempted to let your hobby photographer friend do it for you. My fabulous photographs are from Codie McLachlan Photography.
Neall (my Futurpreneur mentor) had to convince me to hire a designer for the CircoFit logo, and I’ll be eternally grateful that he did. The eye-catching and perfectly aesthetic CircoFit logo was designed by Perpetual Notion Design.
Fake it until you make it
“Fake it until you make it” is something I’ve taken from the performing world and applied to situations in business that don’t feel natural to me yet. Being interviewed makes me super nervous. A year ago it would make my palms sweat and my voice shake. Each one gets a bit easier and I’m a bit calmer. During September several people mentioned to me that I seemed so chill for someone who’d just opened a business. If they could have heard my internal dialogue they would have seen a different story!
Focus on creating the best possible experience
I had a big mind shift right before we opened in August of last year. A lot of what had motivated me to open a business were things like my own freedom and happiness, but suddenly it all became about my clients. From that point forward, every decision and action has revolved around this: “what will bring the most value to my clients?”
Aerial circus isn’t for everyone, but we try to make sure that everyone who comes through the front door leaves with a smile on their face and having had a good experience, and with a really good overall impression of the studio and staff. Because even if they don’t choose to come back, they may share their adventure with a friend or family member who would then be inspired to come to CircoFit.
Meghan is just one of the many women entrepreneurs changing the face of entrepreneurship in Canada and both Futurpreneur and BDC are so proud to help people like her turn their idea into reality.
If you’re a woman looking to start your own business, visit our website to connect with one of our experts.
Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada