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9 Years ago!

In 2003, I opened my first business, a Martial Arts school. I was barely 23 years old but with 13 years of training under my belt (literally) and 9 years of teaching, I felt seasoned enough to go out on my own. I was ready to hit the ground running. Unlike most start up stories that talk about how they failed miserably at first until they figured it out, I was successful right out of the gate. You see, before I opened my own school, I was teaching for my instructor, learning the ins and outs of the trade. I trained with some of the best Martial Artists and Business Owners around the world. I presented ideas to improve our business model however it was met with rejection. After years of rejection from my boss, I felt I could do better and I decided to go off on my own. Within the first 18 months, I had surpassed my former boss in sales. I was hitting some pretty awesome numbers across the board.

Within 3 years, I was in an elite club of high producers and quickly became the number 1 school in the area.

I thought I was King of the World so I began to plan another location expecting to duplicate the results.

At this point, it was 2006/2007. I had a staff that was still green behind the ears and I made the stupid decision to open a second location. I left my original business with my new staff. I still spent time in both locations, which wore me down faster than anything else, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t get the new business off the ground and my first one was going down quickly without my attention. Within a year, the first business had dwindled down to barely breaking even and the second location was losing $7,500 per month. I was single at the time (my girlfriend broke up with me because she couldn’t date a “broke loser”). I was flat broke, so were the businesses. I was being sued by several people because I couldn’t pay the bills. I even slept in the business for a while because I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

I am telling you all these things, not to feel sorry for me, but to give you hope if you have ever been in those shoes or are walking in them now. I was 30 days away from getting evicted from my first business so I made the decision to shut the doors of the second location and refocus my attention on what I did so well at in the beginning. I asked a friend to fly in and help me get my head straight. We sat down over a weekend and came up with a strategy. Upon execution of that strategy I was able to renegotiate the leasing terms with my landlord, allowing me to stay without getting evicted and even went on to profit that month (not a net profit as it all went to debt). That gave me hope that it didn’t have to end like that.

It took help from my business coaches and the most focus you could find in a person

but in 12 months, I was in a new shopping center, back up to the membership that I was used to seeing and I had rebuilt most of the reputation we once had. I went on to earning “Man of Year” from our International Organization for the rebuild that I accomplished and two years later became one of the largest Martial Arts schools in the entire State of Georgia.

Since then, I sold the business to a long time friend and Key staff member. He is still in operation today. Although his vision is different than mine he is still applying much of the knowledge that I passed on to him in order to keep his dreams of business ownership alive. I have also gone on to help many other business owners accomplish their dreams by helping them at the start up level and through different phases of their businesses.

I believe that success is a mindset and can be applied to every aspect of your life. From your business to your hobbies to your family. You will succeed at the things you want to succeed in and you won’t in the things you don’t. It takes focus, purpose and perseverance to see things through. If my quick story could inspire you to do anything, it would be to not hesitate and act quickly and make something happen for yourself. What would your life be like if you applied laser-like focus to one aspect? I bet it would change everything.

Until next time,


Justin Garner
-The Business Sensei

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