Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Active Lifestyle – Find time to get your regular physical exercise from your sedentary life.



Name of your company ?

Gather No Moss

Date started ?

September 2007

What is your product or service ?

“Active lifestyle” coaching, which is working with people to help them find/make time in their schedules (lives) to get regular physical exercise.

Why did you start your company ?

Brian O'Keefe

As our society continues to become more and more sedentary (more TV, more gaming, more online distractions, more desk jobs), our people (and kids!) are becoming heavier and more unhealthy. This is the root cause of our health care “crisis.” We rely too much on our health care. And kids are in more and more sports and activities, and those are obviously not doing helping, and in fact they may be part of the problem.

How was it financed ?

I don’t use debt, so I pay for things as I have the money. To make the leap into it full time, I came up with a financial plan at the end of 2009, figuring out how much money my family actually needed to live, which was less than half of what I actually made. I cashed in some investments for startup capital, and set a plan to leave corporate American at the end of 2010.

Date officially launched ?

September 2007 is when I published the web site and began blogging. September 2010 is when I left my job as a software engineer to pursue Gather No Moss full time.

What free online or offline tools do you use ?

My main expense was buying a personal laptop, and I try to use free cloud computing resources whenever possible. I pay for hosting for my web sites, but I do my own web design and development using WordPress, which is a free platform. I use Dropbox, so my files are all online and always in sync. No need to do backups. I use Google’s Gmail and Google voice (a free phone number that forwards to my cell phone). I have Gather No Moss pages for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I also use MailChimp for enewsletters, which is free for email lists up to 1200 people.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers orindependent contractors for specific projects) ?

I plan to be the only employee, to keep things as simple as possible. I will contract out work as necessary. I’ve used a couple different graphic artists, and do as much as possible myself. Eventually, I’ll use a contracted bookkeeper and accountant.

What is the best advice you never got ?

I’ve gotten lots of good advice, via what I read and the experts I listen to on podcasts. I can’t think of any advice that I haven’t gotten.

What almost killed your business in the start ?

I haven’t had problems, other than the fact that I need to find more creative ways to “package” what I’m selling. People will readily pay for me to design and develop a web site for them, because they know what they’re getting and they can just pay me to do the work. With active lifestyle coaching, the client has to do all the real “work” to get results.

What is the one thing that you did right ?

Getting our personal finances in order. I became convinced about not having car payments while in my mid-20’s. I paid off my car and beginning saving a car payment each month in preparation for eventually buying my next car in cash. When I got married, started a family, and we needed a van, we bought a 1-year-used van in cash! It was very liberating to achieve that. We were also working hard to put extra money toward our mortgage. We paid off our house for my 40th birthday, and not having a mortgage is really what allowed me to leave my high salary as a software engineer to pursue self-employment without debt.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus) ?

I’m not a sales person, at all. I’ve spent all of my career as a software developer, in the “back office” away from customers. I love to write, so that’s a natural fit for Gather No Moss’s mission, but I also need to step out of my comfort zone and “sell” people on the idea that they can and must get active, and that I can help them.

Are you currently in the black or red ?

Gather No Moss has always been in the black because my business expenses are very low. But it doesn’t yet generate enough money for me to take a salary, so I’m still using my personal seed money.

What would make your business more “Successful” ?

Getting my unique message out to more people, to convince more people to get physically active. I’m writing my first book now, to put all of my thoughts and approaches into one place.

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years ?

This business is my passion and mission, so this is what I’ll be doing. If a company wants to buy the business (the brand), then I’d consider that. But then I’d go out and start another business to do the same thing because the need is too great for any one person or company to do it all.

What do you think your projected annual revenue will be ?

It’s still too early to say. My goals are to support my family and to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. If I can accomplish those two things, then annual revenue doesn’t matter to me. But if more revenue means that I can make more of a difference, then I’ll shoot for the stars.

How long do you think it will take you to get to your projected annual revenue ?

My goal is for the business to support my family by 2012.

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