We recently connected with Brian Melekian and have shared our conversation below.
Brian, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Looking back, do you think you started your business at the right time? Do you wish you had started sooner or later
In 2012, at a turning point in my career, I made the decision to go back to school to pursue my MBA. Looking back on it, it was more of a fear-based decision than anything. I’d reached a certain point in life where I wasn’t sure what came next and school seemed like a dependable, safe route. The road more traveled. 18 months and $100,000 later, I’d memorized a few formulas and had my MBA. And nothing changed. I may have understood Internal Rate of Return and the Time Value of Money, but my phone didn’t magically start ringing. And besides all of that theoretical academic knowledge didn’t mean much in the real world.
In 2016 I was presented with the opportunity to bring Stretch Zone to Southern California and I jumped in with both feet. Within months we were planning, we were hiring, we were opening, we were growing and I learned to flex muscles that I did not even know I had. Problem-solving muscles, emotional intelligence muscles and tough decision muscles. There were late nights stressing about payroll and early morning customer service issues, but I enjoyed every minute of the ride.
So do I wish I would have opened my business sooner? You bet. More than that, though, I wish I’d opened my business instead of going to business school, because one thing they don’t teach you in business school is business.
Brian, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Stretch Zone is the nation’s original and leading practitioner-assisted stretching studio, a fancy way of saying that you come in and we stretch you. You lay down, we do all of the work. Our stretchers are all carefully vetted and rigorously trained in the Stretch Zone method, utilizing our patented equipment. We are particularly skilled at alleviating pain – be it back pain, knee pain or just general tightness and soreness of life. I am very proud that we have helped literally thousands of customers in our six years of operation and have yet to stretch anyone who didn’t love it. In fact the refrain I hear most often after a stretch is: “I have been looking for this my whole life!”. That feeling of satisfaction is priceless.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
I funded my business entirely on my own – some combination of savings, credit cards and the magic dust called hope. I do not recommend this to anyone. Looking back on it, I was naive to believe that I could fund a commercial lease, payroll and marketing efforts this way, hoping that revenues would come pouring in on day one. I do not recommend this strategy – if you want to call it a strategy because it’s more of a hard way gamble – to anyone. If I was advising my 41 year old self, I would recommend socking away 6 months expenses prior to opening and certainly no less than 3 months. But if I know my 41 year old self, he wouldn’t listen anyway.
Has your business ever had a near-death moment? Would you mind sharing the story?
Along the lines of how I funded my business, I almost missed payroll two or three times in the early days of the business. Those were sleepless nights. It’s one thing to be broke; it’s quite another to think about defaulting on a basic obligation to your employees, like payroll. I just imagined a snowball of failure that would have rolled down the hill if I missed payroll. I ended up scratching and clawing to borrow money wherever I could and in the end, the crisis passed, but the lesson remained. I definitely haven’t been back to those dark places for years and have no intention of going back.
- Website: https://www.stretchzone.com/locations/encinitas-ca/
- Instagram: @stretchzoneencinitas
- Facebook: @stretchzoneencinitas
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/stretch-zone/mycompany/
- Twitter: @stretchzoneusa
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/stretch-zone-encinitas-5