Two years ago, Jennifer Ashbrook started planning to open her own small business. She was drawn by a passion for fitness and a desire to offer some unique fitness programming. Finally, in the spring of 2013, all the years of hard work paid off and Jennifer opened up her own cycling and fitness studio called Inner Drive in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Yet, the road to owning a small business is never easy and Jennifer faced some challenges along the way.
Jennifer told us that, “the biggest challenge for me was simply the fact that the permitting and construction process took much longer than I anticipated, which pushed my opening back by several months.” Jennifer learned the hard way that a business in the fitness industry, especially cycling, is not always in top demand all year round. The ideal time for Jennifer’s grand opening of Inner Drive would have been in the fall, but because of the setbacks with the permits and construction, she was forced to wait until the spring. Owning a small business is always a learning experience though, and after some experiential learning, Jennifer now knows to expect business to be a little slower in the spring and summer months.
HOW THE SBDC HELPED
This type of marketing knowledge was exactly the kind of help Jennifer received from working with the Widener University Small Business Development Center. Jennifer worked with the Center’s Director Glenn McAllister on the planning of her business and on developing her marketing skills. Inner Drive is just beginning as a small business though, and is still in the growth phase according to Jennifer. She explained that the customer base is continuing to grow along with the staff and they expect a larger increase in sales and customer growth in the fall. Looking toward the future, Jennifer is focused on just growing the business.
Outside of the business, Inner Drive has been a great contribution to the local community as well, offering community members access to high quality fitness classes without the need to commit to a gym membership. Customers can purchase classes individually or in packages of 5, 10, or 20 classes, and use them as their personal schedule allows. Jennifer’s advice to others looking into opening their own small business is to expect the unexpected, as she had to learn while waiting for her permits. She also suggests to never underestimate the power of good marketing. “You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows you are there, it won’t matter!”
JENNIFER ASHBROOK - INNER DRIVE
210 S. NEWTOWN RD, NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA