Female Entrepreneur: Anne Yatch
Company: Sealed Mindset Training
Age range: 30s
What motivated you to start your business?
My husband was injured overseas in Iraq, so we spent two months together in the hospital as he learned how to walk again. He had only ever wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was 7 years old (and he saw Top Gun), so when the surgeon walked in and stated that he could no longer be a SEAL, he was crushed. I remember telling him that what made him a successful SEAL was not fighting, kicking or punching (although that was all helpful). Instead, what set him and the other SEALs apart was the fact that they could assess their environment and avoid bad situations until a time and place of their choosing. This simple skill was something that any mother, any child, any father in the U.S. could learn in order to be safe. So, we set about to make the country safer from the inside by translating his elite Navy SEAL skills into practical lessons that normal people (like me!) could use every day. From my experience working in the field of counterterrorism, and his experience on the front lines of combat, we knew we could give back to our country more by working on the inside with families than fighting overseas, so we started Sealed Mindset Training.
Tell us about your business.
Sealed Mindset Training is the brainchild of an intensely logical Navy SEAL engineer (my husband) and an intensely creative counterterrorism academic (me!). Together with two male partners, we own “The Firearms Studio” an innovative fitness and wellness facility that focuses on the integration of all things personal safety and defense related in a boutique, members-only club. Unlike other commercial ranges, we allow our members and students to experience as close to reality as possible in simulated events. We also allow our members to learn how to safety move and shoot, shoot in the dark (at night), and shoot multiple targets. We have ladies shooting leagues that integrate yoga, belly dancing, wine tasting (after you shoot, of course!). We have ladies’ defensive crossfit where we integrate a defensive workout with dry and live fire training to make you quick to respond should you find yourself in a defensive encounter. We have a set up much like a gym where you have access to 73 classes a month and pay one monthly fee – everything from foundational martial arts (ground defense, striking, improvised weapons (what to do with a hairbrush!), never unarmed, to defensive shooting. This may all sound intense, but as one of our professional business women members states, “We are bad-ass women who want a challenge!” I strive daily to surprise people with the language we use, the classes we teach, and the life lessons we promote.
What is a day in the life of you like?
A day in my life starts early – I take our giant German Rottweiler, Fluffy, for a walk and then write a few pages in a book I’m working on before heading into the office. I need coffee, quiet and the rising sun to inspire me to tackle what I know is going to be a hefty workload that might not end until close to midnight (despite my best intentions). The first hour of the day is spent preparing my People-Project-Priorities list so that I can tackle the most important issues that come my way first before all the emails build up. Note: I do not start with email responses first as they tend to derail even the best of us (without bringing us the results we most desire!). The second two hours are spent calling potential clients to set up tours, confirm speaking engagements, and hopefully introducing myself to a few new walk-ins who are surprised to find a “gun lady” who can talk to them about the differences between the custom handguns, AR-15 and shotguns that my husband has designed. Then, I’ll pull my marketing team (Candice and Ericka) together for a quick review of the prior week’s marketing/adverting grassroots efforts we are making before heading to lunch with my husband to spend a few minutes together before our classes start for the day. If I’m lucky on any given day we’ll start with a defensive crossfit workout (our own innovation) where I’ll get to test my ability to continue to defend myself despite being completely exhausted (lifting heavy weights tend to do that!). At this point you probably think I’m a beast of a woman, but I promise I am completely normal…wink wink. After lunch it’s back to the facility for my two hours of email responses and proposal writing. I hand write any thank yous and help my husband put out the “fires” that may have arisen from a news story on our latest event, “Navy SEAL Adventure: Operation Geronimo.” (Who knew that a word the NAVY used for the mission that targeted Bin Laden would cause a reaction in the Native American community?!) We run a defense class, a fitness class, a daily defensive shooting class, answer phones, update the website with our newest blog, and before we know it, it’s 12 am and the only place still open for food is Applebee’s. Tear.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Financing was our biggest challenge, so we sought out a company in our industry who was looking for our consulting expertise. The company provided the technology to make our range innovative, and we provided the work. After they saw the amount of work we put in, and we were able to prove the concept over a year of training, they were willing to put in additional amounts of money to help make us successful.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We built partnerships with leaders in the firearms industry space and with CEOs of other companies who we could run ideas by – having individuals with more experience to guide us was the most important thing we integrated very early on to our business planning. Then, adding a forecasting tool so that we could track our growth to know what we needed more of and less of!
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
The most effective way I’ve found to bring in new clients is to be yourself (and to join a Business Networking International Group) in your city. Then, you must have a fun product and high integrity to convert clients. I think it also helps that most of our clients are also our friends – people like to do business with people they trust.
I try to attend 1-2 networking events each week in addition to BNI, and try to follow up with absolutely everyone I meet who shows any interest in what we do. Free speaking does not work because people do not value it (unless it is a rotary club), but speaking for a minimal cost per person to get people excited about what you do is helpful!
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Here’s my TOP 10 list, for what it is worth:
(1) If you are starting a business be prepared to sacrifice the next five to ten years of your life to be successful.
(2) Take BIG, calculated risks
(3) Surprise people with the language you use around a particular idea or concept so that you break up their current understanding and inner monologue about that topic – then you might gain their interest
(4) Read the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy”
(5) Purchase a subscription to INC and read it cover to cover every time it comes in – you never know what will spark that next big idea in your industry.
(6) Hire an accountant/book keeper FIRST (as a wife or husband working together with your significant other you will save yourself some serious heartache if you get this off your plate first and foremost)
(7) Set aside 30 minutes every day for a mini workout
(8) Set aside 5 minutes at the beginning of your day and at end of your day to internally think about what you are thankful for. This makes going to bed and getting up early easier!
(9) Find an entrepreneurial couples group (if you own a company with your spouse) so that you can share lessons learned and challenge brainstorming sessions over great wine and good food once a month. It will prove to you that you are not alone (and keep you sane!).
(10) Remember that your value is not tied to how much money you make, what you do, or who you meet – your value is in how you treat those around you. Remember this, no matter how successful you become.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Motivation for me has to be external and internal. As a competitive individual, it helps to see my husband’s work ethic and then strive to meet it (difficult thing as he is a SEAL as has been known never to quit!). As a woman, I need to write down where I want to be, how I’m going to get there, and then have time to vent over a glass of wine when I’m surprised by something in the business. In the most difficult times when money was scarce, we worked 19 hour days, and I felt completely unsure of my value in this development process, I used the Navy SEAL concept of “If you can’t get through this week, get through the day. If you can’t get through the day, get through the next hour. If you can’t get through the next hour, get through the next minute.” And then I had a glass of wine and wrote down the lesson I learned from that day. Thankfully, there is always the next day, another amazing story to write and another wonderful person who becomes a member who can motivate you to take the next big risk. Another thing I have used is asking myself, “What is the worst that could happen if I make this decision?” Usually the answer is, “I loose everything.” So, to that answer I reply, “well, if I loose everything, we’ll move to Thailand…and that’s a pretty awesome trip!”
What’s your favourite quote?
“The only easy day is yesterday.”
Who inspires you?
My husband and one of our first employees, Candice inspire me every day. My husband had been at the absolute height of his profession and had to give everything up to find a new career, which for him meant a new lifestyle. Rather than giving in to the temptation to join a pre-existing company, he designed something that no one else had ever designed before and was excited to work with me to create a world where patriotism, values, and a woman’s translation of his skills matter.
Candice inspires me because she is a single mother of three (twins and a boy with autism) and she loves coming to work at Sealed Mindset. She also looks like a supermodel after having three children, which I think is a miracle in and of itself. When I watch her work with a client, she is patient, thoughtful and understanding and she isn’t afraid to tell me that I’m too intimidating for most people (e.g. “Anne go back into your office to work”). We have different life stories, but we’re living the same goals with the company. I’m incredibly thankful that she made the choice to work with us because when I see what we are doing through her eyes, it is magical.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Integrity above all else
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