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Greenville Business Magazine

#7 - 9Round

Nov 01, 2017 12:28PM ● By Emily Stevenson
#7 9Round
Greenville, S.C.
Shannon Hudson, CEO

9Round is a fitness club that features a 30-minute full-body workout that changes daily and a circuit that runs on a three-minute cycle. Founded in 2007, 9Round was created to offer low-risk kickboxing training, as well as to offer weight loss and muscle training options. The company has more than 500 locations in 12 countries including the U.S. Its original location is in Greenville.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Having a franchise in the fitness industry with a low cost of entry (around $100,000 on average) is uncommon, and that price tag is appealing to people. Additionally, having systems and support in place that make the whole process turnkey allows you to achieve faster growth.

What do you see as your company’s greatest opportunities in the future?
Exercise is a universal language and our model works everywhere. With a presence in 11 countries outside of the U.S., the international market is a huge growth sector for us. We also have the opportunity to provide more services to current 9Round owners and trainers (ongoing education, sales training, etc.) as well as members and prospective members. We’re currently rolling out a line of nutrition supplements that will be available to members and, in the future, non-members. 

What are your biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Building a franchise operating with more than 500 locations worldwide comes with a multitude of challenges, of course. One that’s always top of mind for us is infrastructure. We always want to have the people in place to provide the support that we need to grow the brand and to help our franchisees grow their business. Knowing when to add staff and finding the right people to do the job is always a challenge.

What advice can you offer someone just starting a business?
It’s hard. You just have to go ALL-IN. You may not know all of the answers, but if you’re putting everything you have into making it work, you’ll figure it out. Commit first, figure out the details later.

Who do you consider to be your mentor/mentors in business?
I draw inspiration and have learned from a lot of successful business people and brands. From Zig Ziglar to Tony Robbins and Apple to Ford, there are lessons to learn, behaviors to emulate, and things to be inspired by everywhere. I am always looking for the next person or place that will help me propel 9Round to the next level.

What is your strategy for innovation?
Hiring creative, smart, talented people with innovative ideas and the ability to bring those ideas to life.

Does your company’s geographic location offer any specific advantages?
We host training sessions in Greenville every month and our World Convention was held downtown. Having our headquarters in Greenville allows us to put money back into the place where we live and grew up. There was a time when 9Round was only one location, and the people that came through those doors - the people of this community that supported us - we wouldn’t be where we are now without them.

How is your company legally structured?
We’re a Limited Liability Company with three entities that essentially make up 9Round – the Canadian entity, 9Round Franchising, and 9Round Franchising International.

What is the hardest thing about being a founder?
When all is said and done, if something goes wrong, it ultimately comes down to you. Regardless of who may have been responsible for the mistake, you have to own it. Our franchisees may not know the person shipping their supply order, or the person managing their social media account, but they know me – and when something goes wrong, it’s my job to answer for it.

If you are a founder, at what point did you start paying yourself?
Heather and I opened the doors to our first 9Round location in 2008. We opened the first 9Round franchise in 2009. We took our very first paycheck in May of 2013, a whopping $36,000 for the year.

How much money did you use to start your business?
With the help of a loan from a friend, and one maxed out credit card, we were able to open the doors of our first 9Round for just $13,000. And believe me, with everything riding on it, it felt like 100 times that amount.