We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Munkholm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I love this question, because it brings me back to the spark. The spark is SUCH a fun time. I love beginnings and really thrive in the visionary part of business building. Starting Studio Solutions was something I never imagined I’d do. As far as I knew, there really wasn’t even an industry in what I wanted to build. I didn’t know anyone else doing it, so obviously, there was fear. But deciding to start down the entrepreneur path is a big decision, and I couldn’t have done it alone. 6 years ago, I was going through big life stuff. I had some personal and family reasons for leaving my studio manager role, and after taking about 4 months to be home with my baby, was in the process of interviewing to go back into the sales world.
To prep for interviews, and sift through my options, I had a meeting with my dear friend and business mentor. She had always helped me get clear about what I really wanted from my professional life. At that point I had no intention of starting a business. I wouldn’t have even known where to start. I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I just needed guidance on how to choose the right job. She made me get honest about what I wasn’t stellar at, and asked me to speak in detail about where I shine. I think this is tough for many women, in particular. We are so hard on ourselves. I didn’t want to feel like I was bragging, and didn’t want to sound arrogant, but after listing about eight things that I was great at, I felt a sort of cathartic release.
It was SO incredible to say out loud where I stood out. It was such a confidence builder to have someone sitting across from me shaking her head, and saying “yes, yes you are incredible.” Now I know that any new business venture needs a BIG shot of confidence at the get go. I walked away from that meeting with my head up and a boatload of determination. She called me later that day. I remember sitting on the edge of my bathtub completely dumbfounded by what she was saying. “Why wouldn’t you combine your two superpowers and start business consulting for yoga and fitness studios?” The spark. Right then. It was invigorating, and terrifying, and exciting all at once. I knew studios needed help. I could do so much good. I knew I was really, really good at the business of fitness. I knew I could sell. I knew the industry. And the freedom. Oh my God. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to make my own decisions. To decide when and how I worked. To build my own team. It started to feel like maybe I was an entrepreneur at heart. Then, the imposter syndrome struck. I had never started my own studio from scratch, so why would they trust me? Who was I kidding, I wasn’t smart enough to write a business plan. I didn’t have my MBA, what could I offer that is worth the amount of money I’d need to charge? I spun in the muck of inadequacy for a few days.
My husband listened for a while, and then I remember him saying “stop talking about it, and just do something.” He knows me so well. Sometimes, I just need a kick in the bum to get out of my head, and to get going. So, I started writing. I grabbed my laptop, opened a blank page, and asked myself “what could this look like?” For the next week I didn’t stop. It was all I could think about. It was everything from describing everyone that needed my help, what expertise I could easily sell, what skills I was lacking and how to fix that. I googled business plans. I asked friends. I did the math and realized what I’d need to invest. Looking back, the thought process was really this: shut the imposter gremlins up, and start the work.
Now, 6 years later, I can say that it was 100% the right call. The hardest part for me was taking the writing, and making it into something real. Many people never get past the idea phase. Here’s my two cents. Do the intimidating stuff first. Decide on your business structure. Open a bank account. File the LLC paperwork. Ask for help when you need it. Build the email funnel. Find your first client. It was scary as hell, but I just did it. I called people, I networked, and I got lucky. (Although, my husband always tells me “the harder you work, the luckier you get”). Now, after 6 years growing Studio Solutions, I’m in the process of starting business #2. The thought process has been wildly different, but in some ways, sort of the same.
I was deeply inspired after all the time I spent talking to studio owners all over the world. I knew there was more I could do. I could help on a larger scale. I’d been in talks with a friend about it for a while, and he wanted to start a business. The imposter syndrome snuck back in. Could I really do this? With a partner, I’d have to be vulnerable. I’d have to show someone else my weaknesses right away. But, I knew studios needed a better platform to run their businesses on. I also knew nothing about building software. This time it came down to one fact. I couldn’t do it alone.
Luckily, that friend has turned out to be a fantastic business partner. He’s pushed me along this time. We’re past the visionary stage and in the ‘roll up your sleeves and do the work’ phase now. I know it will be bigger and much more impactful than the last. I am beyond grateful for the experience with my first business baby. Everything I learned, every person I met, every skill I acquired, has given me the confidence and ability to bring life to my new business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Studio Solutions is more than a consulting firm. It is a support system for the leaders of the wellness revolution in our country. 6 years ago, I saw a desperate need. Studios were closing their doors, ownership changes happened every couple of years, and teachers were constantly frustrated with the lack of leadership.
Having run our own studios, we knew what it took to make a studio community thrive and to be financially successful. Studio Solutions was born because we simply couldn’t keep this formula a secret. Boutique fitness has been growing like crazy, and we are deeply passionate about seeing studios succeed so the surrounding community can be healthier and happier. I am beyond proud of what I’ve built.
I was able to find a team who cared about studio owners and their clients as much as I do. It took years, hundreds of studios believing in us, and a lot of vulnerability, but we did it. We created a consulting practice that not only helps studios become more profitable, it also gives them the ability to change more lives.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oh I love this… In my next life, I’d want to be a travel blogger. San Diego has so much to offer! I’m a sucker for a fresh meal followed by live music and dancing, so we’d start with a beach stroll at Fletcher cove in Solana Beach then head for dinner and drinks at Alce 101 (the cornbread and the cauliflower tostada are to die for). Next, we’d hit up the belly up for a show. I’d make sure to include a hike at Annie’s Canyon at some point, too. It’s like you’re in the grand canyon walking through narrow painted trails. So beautiful!
We’d probably take the train down to little italy to stroll the saturday farmer’s market, have a glass of wine at Craft & Commerce, then listen to some music in the plaza. I love watching the cute old couples dancing and people walking around with overflowing plates from the food hall. Next day we’d take a yoga class at Honey Yoga, my fav studio in Kensington. Then head into north park for a coffee at Cafe Calabria. The last night would absolutely be a splurge at Market, my favorite restaurant.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to Krista Clive Smith. My forever soul sister, business mentor, and friend. Also, huge shoutout to my husband, Kevin Munkholm. He always knows how to call me on my BS, get me out of my head, and back to the work of serving the wellness community.