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If you’ve ever thought Entrepreneurs are a lot like fighters, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. To survive and thrive, Entrepreneurs must fight, persist and takedown obstacles in front of them while guarding their own body – just like a fighter would.

They need to follow a well thought out strategy to succeed. Without one, they run the risk of losing the battle completely!

Today’s guest is Simon Chang.

He took his fighting passion and turned his MMA club into an Entrepreneurial success.

In this episode, Simon shares some of the common traits between being an entrepreneur and being an MMA athlete that you can start applying to your business and life today.

Show Highlights:

  • A hobby into a business: How Simon gave himself a fighting chance and turned his passion into a thriving business (2:30)
  • Tips on finding a great business mentor (3:45)
  • How Simon used ‘knock-out’ marketing wisdom to get more students through the door (6:00)
  • How to find your true purpose – and how to use it to effortlessly grow your business (6:40)
  • The #1 thing to skyrocket your success in both business AND life (15:25)
  • Can entrepreneurs really have work-life balance? (16:45)

Find out more about Simon’s work here:

If you want to recession-proof your business and thrive in any area of life, go to www.uncommonlifepodcast.com and grab your free report today. I share with you the 5 key principles that have transformed and elevated my life – and they can do the same for you too if consistently applied.

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the Uncommon Life Podcast. Whether you're a startup or you've been in business for 10 years, this show is for you.
Each week, you'll get mentored by business leaders who deliver valuable strategies, tactics and tips on how you can pursue your passion without compromise. We’ll show you how to achieve balance while sticking to your core values, so you can have an uncommon life.
Now, here's your host, Jimmy Fullerton.

Jimmy Fullerton: Welcome to the Uncommon Life Podcast. I'm your host, Jimmy Fullerton. My pleasure to talk today to Simon Chang, the owner of Ultimate Youth Sports. Simon, thanks for coming, man. I appreciate it.

Simon Chang: Thanks for having me, Jimmy.

Jimmy: Just tell us a little bit about you and your business, Ultimate Youth Sports, and Columbus Mixed Martial Arts.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. I came to Columbus in 2008. I was actually a soldier here. I was stationed at Fort Benning as a drill instructor. And I got out around 2010, May of 2010. And back at home—home is Chicago for me—and at that time, they were having a financial crisis. There weren't many jobs available. The real estate market in 2008 was right around there.

Jimmy: Yeah, right around the crash.

Simon: Everything crashed. I had my peers who were graduating from Northwestern University, top of their class and couldn't find jobs, and they were living with their parents at home, so, basically, I didn't want to go back there. And I had an opportunity to come up here in Columbus with a couple of my drill sergeant buddies, and we started an apparel lifestyle brand company. And, at the same time, I've been an avid martial artist, so I was practicing martial arts at the same time.

During that time, my professor, what we call professor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, had passed away. He had a brain aneurysm and he passed away, and we had about 60 or 70 students that were kind of like lost puppies. We didn't have a master, so with his passing, there was no one to take over the school, to run the school. And so, I decided I would take it over and I started Columbus Martial Arts.

So, during that time, I continued on with both businesses, and Columbus Martial Arts was purely, at the time, just a club. It was guys who wanted to learn how to choke and [03:00] beat each other up, and it wasn't really a business. And, at that time, I didn't know anything about business. I had absolutely no clue. I just wanted to start this because it was my passion and I wanted to continue on, and there was no one else to take it over, so that's when I decided that I would do this. About six to seven months into it, we kept losing money month after month in the red.

Jimmy: Gets Old.

Simon: Yeah. I was sweating bullets, for sure. And that's when I actually went to a conference and learned about [it], kind of like a business conference, a mastermind, and that kind of took my trajectory completely to the opposite direction.

Jimmy: What made you think about a mastermind? How did you find this mastermind?

Simon: One of my buddies, who was training with me saw the struggles I was going through and--

Jimmy: Can you name a couple of the biggest struggles that you had when you were...?

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. I didn't know what I didn't know, right? So, I didn't have a clue as to what business was. I didn't know what marketing was. I didn't know what staffing was. I didn't know that you needed a business license. I didn't know you needed insurance. I didn't know anything. And so, basically, I had to learn from the ground up, and I think I got to a point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Jimmy: Yeah, being frustrated.

Simon: Yeah. After about six to eight months of losing money and worrying about rent, next month's rent, and me and my wife—at the time, Madeline was my girlfriend and we were dating—we were living on ramen packets every day, and so it was just sort of [rough].

Jimmy: Like college.

Simon: Yeah, it was rough. It was really rough. And my buddy approached me and said, “Hey, why don't you try going to this conference?” He’d learned about this business mentor years back. It was industry-specific and he told me that this guru, basically, would be able to help me take my business in a different direction. And, at that time, I had nothing else to lose. I literally had nothing else to lose.

I remember, I couldn't pay next month's rent. I barely had enough for a flight there and I pretty much stayed in the lobby of the hotel. It was for two days, so, basically, I had to figure out a way to make my way there, so I spent pretty much every penny, last penny I had on this trip. And that's when I learned everything about business and, specifically, marketing, how to get more students in the door [06:00], which was my biggest problem.

Jimmy: Yeah, so you came back and you started to implement. That's a lot. You probably learned more than you could process at one time.

Simon: Oh, yeah.

Jimmy: So, you came back and you started. How did you implement it? Did you do baby steps?

Simon: The biggest takeaway from that conference was the marketing aspect. I didn't have a marketing budget. I didn't spend time on marketing. I didn't know what marketing was. But, basically, during that conference, they told me that I'm not a martial artist, [but] I'm a marketer of martial artists or martial arts, and, basically, I needed to get in front of as many people as possible and tell my story, and try to sell them with the product that I have.

Jimmy: That's interesting. You're a marketer of martial arts.

Simon: Right.

Jimmy: So, I guess, you learned how to step outside of your business and realize what your true purpose was, and it wasn't just being the best martial artist out there, which I'm sure you're excellent at, just like I'm sure you were an excellent drill sergeant.

Simon: Years ago.

Jimmy: Yeah. But that's [when] you had that awakening that “This is what I need to do.” Who helped guide you into that realization? Was it what you learned in the masterminds?

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. It was at the conference. What really woke me up was, in our industry, a lot of people kind of shame martial artists who turn it into a business, and they call it McDojo. Basically, you're just trying to sell people.

Jimmy: McDojo...

Simon: Yeah, so trying to wrap that around my head. And because, as a purist, you want you want to be a high-quality martial arts studio, teach the best techniques as a martial artist. Our passion is completely in there. This is what we love to do. This is what our life is. And so, trying to wrap that around your head, as well as, hey, at the end of the day, you've got to live. You've got to pay your bills. You've got to charge people something. And combining, getting over that mindset was very difficult. Charging people more was very difficult. Asking people for money was very difficult for me.

Jimmy: Yeah, I've been through that bend in real estate. When I first started out in real estate, I sometimes felt guilty about asking for a commission. I have long since changed that because my time is valuable.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely.

Jimmy: And yours is, too. So, I do not feel guilty about charging a commission. I do not feel guilty about charging for anything here at Launch Trampoline Park. I feel like it's worth the value.

Simon: A thousand percent. And I didn't see it that way because I was younger and I just wanted to be a purist, right? I found out very quickly, being a purist [09:00.4], that you can't pay the bills. At that conference, I learned some of the greatest names in our industry, big names, world champion UFC fighters at the time had schools and they had world titles, but they were broke.

So, at that conference, I had that aha moment, that epiphany that if I look at these purists out here, top of their game, and they're here at this conference trying to learn how to make a profit, and I came to that realization that maybe I needed to learn and turn this into an actual business instead of focusing on being a purist. So, that's definitely what I got it from that conference.

Hey, guys and gals! My apologies for interrupting, but I have something I want to share with you.

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Jimmy: Collaboration and masterminds. Yeah, that's something. You couldn't just grunt that up in your own brain.

Simon: No.

Jimmy: You needed to have external influences to get that. Otherwise, you're just going to keep [doing the same things.] I see so many people that have a business that end up doing the same things and they end up being miserable and broke, and they become a slave to their business.

Simon: Absolutely.

Jimmy: Tell me about what is your main thrust of Ultimate Youth Sports? What's your main purpose of that business?

Simon: Yeah, I was doing the martial-arts thing for a couple years. It was getting really successful. And, in this conference, basically, in this mastermind—I joined the mastermind group after a while because I got so much value from that one conference. It just made sense, you know?—so when I was in this mastermind group, basically other peers in hat group were launching a successful afterschool program and summer camp. And so, I followed suit.
They did some training on how to effectively run those two programs, so I went ahead and launched those two programs, that afterschool program and summer camp program, what we now call Ultimate Youth Sports. At the time, it was very specific to martial arts.

So, it was [12:00] pick up the kids from school; they do their homework or they have a snack and we go into martial arts classes, and we wait for their parents to come pick them up—so instead of your traditional daycare format where they're literally not doing anything; they're not learning anything. They're just there and being babysat, right?

Jimmy: That's what prompted me to enroll my daughter, Libby, in the Ultimate Youth Sports Summer Camp, because she was enrolled in an afterschool, aftercare program. That was actually when school was out. Yet all they did was watch TV. I’m not saying this about all schools out there, but a lot of them, that's what they wind up doing. It's not productive. It's not... I don't know, maybe it was just where she was going, but I know that when she started Ultimate Youth Sports Camp, she would come home exhausted.

Simon: Exhausted.

Jimmy: Yeah, so I felt like she benefited in many ways from that.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. It started with martial arts specific, right. We started seeing a lot of change in the kids with their character, what we were instilling in them day to day on the mats. And there was actually another group, another mastermind group that was very specific to working with afterschool and summer camp, and I decided.

These two programs brought in about a third of the business, of the profits, so right then I knew there was something here. There was an actual viable business, as well as just the support we received from the parents and just how they were so happy that their kids were making this change and learning something new, and just going out of their comfort zone every day, physically exercising every day.

Jimmy: Yeah. How did you get feedback from the parents? Was it through emails or reviews?

Simon: Yeah, it was reviews combined with just every day when they would pick up their kids, just conversing with them on a day-to-day basis. We got to know the parents very well and they would just let us know what was going on at the house, and anytime they gave us positive feedback, of course, I would ask them to write us a review as well.

Jimmy: Yeah, you get asked for the review.

Simon: But, yeah. And so, I joined this afterschool and summer camp mastermind, and they kind of showed us that it was not just martial arts that could do this, have a positive impact on these children. So, a lot of these guys implemented different sports, recreational sports [15:00], drama, dance, gymnastics, tumbling, cheer, and just had an array of different options for the kids to do. And, again, it was just having the right mentors, having the right people to guide you and let you know that this is actually a possibility.

Jimmy: Having mentors and masterminds, does that affect your mindset as far as how you think about things, as far as being able to spot? I know that you seem to be a lot more aware of opportunities, “Oh, this might be a good business.” Does that help you to think like an entrepreneur and realize when there might be an opportunity or a need that you can fill? Does that help a lot with that?

Simon: Yeah, a hundred percent. I attribute everything I know about business and what I've become to this point to the mastermind system. These high-level guys were directly in my shoes years ago. They resonated with me because they knew exactly what/where I was coming from. I didn't know anything about business. I didn't know anything about personal development. And these guys, every time you go to a mastermind meeting, that's one of the first things that we work on, our mindset.

Jimmy: Give me an example that, if you don't mind.

Simon: Recently, I went to a mastermind meeting and we had a special guest speaker. His name was Ryan Stewman—they call him the “Hardcore Closer”—and he spoke to us about basically our mindset and the different areas that we needed to focus on, and having balance. And it's so difficult as an entrepreneur to have balance, to have work-life balance.

Jimmy: We could have a whole nother show about that.

Simon: Yeah. So, he just focused on the four areas that he focuses on every day. That was faith, family, finances and fitness. Those are the four key areas that he really emphasized, and at any time that he didn't have that balance, he realized how it just threw him off, his entire day.

But, basically, I'm not to that level yet where he's at, not even close, but that has just opened up my mind that I need to focus more on being balanced and not just work, work, work, work, work. That's one example of just the mindset, just changing our mindset. Every time we go through a quarterly meeting, they really focus on the mindset.

Jimmy: Yeah.
So, we have come to the end of Part 1 of my interview with Mr. Simon Chang [18:00.3] and there was some good stuff in there. And if you got some value out of that, then you’ll definitely want to check out Part 2 of my interview with Simon where we talk about a few things:

● One is working with your spouse. If you're doing that, you have your own business and you currently work with your spouse, there are some valuable tips in there.
● Also, how he set his business up on autopilot, which freed up his time to be able to scale, also allowed him to be able to think bigger picture, to create multiple streams of income, which I know we're all a big fan of that.
And there’s plenty of other good information in there, so check it out. It’ll be well worth your time.

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