Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple inside of a garage in 1976. William Harley built a motor-bicycle in his friend’s 10-foot by 15-foot wooden shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and thus, officially founded Harley-Davidson in 1903. It isn’t the space that determines a business’s worth, it’s the people inside the space and what
In Cornelius, North Carolina, Mike and Kristin Ratnofsky started CrossFit Cornelius inside of the garage attached to their family home. After Kristin became pregnant, it grew harder to get to the Box where they originally trained 25 minutes away. The solution was to transform the space where they would normally park a car into a Box.
“I invited friends over and, no joke, three friends turned into 60 in our garage,” explained Kristin. “We ended up running a 6 a.m. and a 6 p.m. class six days a week, and in the middle of that, we decided we should look into opening an Affiliate.”
They soon moved their garage training to a 100-plus year old building. Within two months, they outgrew that space as well. They bought property and built the space they are in currently. They both quit their jobs to focus fully on building the business and haven’t looked back since.
“We were kind of at the mindset that if you don’t take risks in life you won’t get anywhere, and sometimes you have to do scary things to get to where you want to be. I’m so glad we took that leap of faith and did it,” said Kristin.
Community, like at most Boxes, has been the bind holding CrossFit Cornelius together. Mike and Kristin aim to always have a conversation with each and every person that walks into their Box, ranging from how someone’s PRs are going to what a member’s kid was learning in school that week. “Our three big pillars, our philosophy, was centered on hopefully creating a good community with good programming and good coaching,” said Mike. “That community pillar is obviously very interpersonal skills and making sure you are finding and meeting the needs of all of your members. As the business grows, right alongside the size of the building and the membership, that dynamic takes on an even bigger scope. Every day Kristin and I wake up with the idea that we need to be involved in these people’s lives. “
And that led to one of Mike’s biggest pieces of advice for other business owners. “Whether you are going into business in CrossFit or you’re going into business baking cupcakes you have to go in with not only your money and brain, but with your heart and really be truly and honestly passionate about it,” said Mike. “It needs to be a burning desire when you wake up to make something of that day.”
With an expansion in progress, Mike and Kristin don’t aim to react, but rather to be proactive. Whether it’s a garage, a basement or a shed, every business has humble beginnings. It’s not about where you start. It’s about where you end up.