One look at John Meadows of Columbus, Ohio, and it’s pretty obvious that he’s crazy about fitness. As the sole owner of Mountain Dog Diet, LLC, it’s just a business requirement. Meadows runs www.mountaindogdiet.com out of his home office, coaching his audience with nutritional and fitness information — as well as content by affiliated, relevant businesses — and a members-only section for subscribers. Despite having run a training business for many years without formal establishment, Mountain Dog Diet became an LLC in 2011.
“I’ve been coaching people since maybe 1994 or 1995. I worked in the corporate world for 9 years before fully committing to my business. During that time, I was working two jobs and I was building a clientele base. I would go to work during the day and have to work with my clients at night. I ended up having twin boys and was spread really thin. So after long consideration, I stopped working in the corporate world and decided to do this on my own. I maintained my good relationships in the banking industry in case I ever needed to go back, but I just didn’t want to work those 70-hour weeks anymore with newborn twins,” he explains.
Meadows developed a knack for fitness and bodybuilding early in life, getting into it at 12 years old. At 13, he competed in his first bodybuilding contest – which is, as he puts it, “insane.” By high school, he was involved in a lot of sports and enjoyed working alongside other athletes. When he approached 40 and found himself overwhelmed juggling work, parenthood, and his hobby, he knew he had to make some life-changing decisions.
“When you love something and put a lot of time into something, you eventually become very good at it. I already loved what I was doing every day. I just had to give up those steady corporate paychecks. I enjoyed my work in the corporate world, but I didn’t feel like it was what I was born to do,” Meadows says.
There is no shortage of personalities in the fitness industry who use their seemingly aspirational lifestyles as a means of selling their brands. Sometimes, crazy promises are just part of the sales pitch. So how does Meadows set himself apart from the competitors saturating his industry?
“I never got into that kind of marketing. I’ve just been true to myself. I’ve been honest with people. I walked the walk. I worked really hard for many years, and people saw the example I was setting. I provided free information for magazines and websites so I could educate readers on the industry. I wasn’t just some guy in a lab coat, and I think people identified with me because I’m a hardworking guy who didn’t have everything handed to him,” he says of his secrets to success.
Meadows’ favorite aspect of small business ownership is the fun that he has staying innovative and evolving his brand. He is currently working with an affiliated company on a fresh, unprocessed protein bar. His goal was to create a protein bar with a good taste and texture. It is this diversified approach – he also has a smart phone app and clothing line — that keeps him ahead of the curve.
“I have a pretty solid educational background in addition to having competed successfully in bodybuilding competitions. A lot of people are one-sided — they’re either too scientific or not educated enough. One thing I won’t do is put on a fake persona to sell average products,” he says.
The main demographic of John Meadows’ client base is 60% male and 40% female between the ages of 20 and 55. Meadows promotes himself, Mountain Dog Diet, and his other ventures online. He has an website – www.mountaindogdiet.com – as well as pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a YouTube channel.
Being your own boss doesn’t mean all play and no work. Meadows emphasizes time management as one of the biggest challenges small business owners face in the startup stages of success. And as many learn in the preliminary stages, working hard doesn’t always mean working smart.
“Even though you’re having fun building your business, you’re still working. People say, ‘Oh, you probably don’t feel like you’re working!’ Well, guess what? I do feel like I’m working!” he laughs.
It is important to maintain a well-rounded and balanced lifestyle despite the demands of entrepreneurism. And that means carving out time for family.
“When you start a business, you really need to be passionate. But you can’t just stay that way all the time and never pay attention to your family or anything else. For people with families, you’ve got to be careful not to spend all of your time working. Don’t let it swallow up your whole life.”
One of the fears plaguing entrepreneurs the most is the risk associated with leaving the paycheck-to-paycheck life behind in favor of the unpredictability that comes with small business ownership. Still, don’t let that deter you from taking the plunge.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you have the risk of making no money, but you also have the potential to double what you would make at a conventional job. There is an upside to every risk. You get what you put in.”
For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to branch out into the world of small business ownership, Meadows offers some invaluable advice.
“Have a backup plan, but don’t be afraid of failure. Be extremely thorough in your planning. Create a brand identity. What do you really stand for? When people think about your company, what should come to mind? Identify your demographic. Then build your business plan around those findings,” he advises.
This narrowing of focus is essential for success.
“I think a lot of people don’t really know what they want to do. Put a lot of forward thinking into every aspect. Then go for it. If you learn lessons along the way, then that is just a part of business. You can’t just quit when something doesn’t go well. I made a lot of business mistakes even a year ago, but I learned from them and I’m not making them now.”
Meadows also suggests finding a mentor with a similar desired career trajectory.
John Meadows of Mountain Dog Diet, LLC has been a satisfied client of 1-800Accountant right out of the gate. Because he finds business taxes one of his biggest pain points, he has benefited tremendously from the service.
“My accountant has been excellent. We do check-ins every quarter to see how the business is doing financially. He keeps me posted with market changes or things I should do with my retirement plan and other investments. He keeps me in the know with things that the bank doesn’t even tell me,” he enthuses.
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog post were provided by John Meadows of Mountain Dog Diet, LLC and are used with permission.