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After Being Laid Off Twice in 2 Years, He Realized He Could 'Be Brave,' or 'Fail to Attain My Potential.' Now His Business Makes Over $1 Million a Year. At 41, Josh Grinstead knew he was at a crossroads.

By Kim Kavin

This story appears in the March 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of GYMGUYZ

When Josh Grinstead got laid off for the second time, at 41, he knew he was at a crossroads: "Either stay on the treadmill, be unhappy, and fail to attain my potential," he says, "or be brave enough to take that mid-career risk."

Until then, he'd worked in senior management at various colleges. But on aptitude tests, he'd always scored high for entrepreneurial instincts. As a longtime fitness enthusiast, personal training services appealed to him — so in 2015, Grinstead bought three GYMGUYZ territories (GYMGUYZ is a handy acronym for Get You Motivated, Genuine, Unique, You can do it, Zero Excuses). Today, he owns ten of them in New Jersey and New York. His annual revenue tops $1 million, he's first in sales among GYMGUYZ franchisees in 22 states, and last year, the International Franchise Association named him a Franchisee of the Year.

Related: She Competed On The U.S. Olympic Swim Team Before Becoming This Brand's Top Franchisee. Here's Her Winning Business Strategy.

Here's how he made it happen.

1. Have extra startup capital.

"No matter what [the franchisor] tells you about capital, go 20% higher," Grinstead says. "You never know what you'll need. You might want to spend more on marketing. You might want to spend more on equipment. You want that flexibility." And when you're choosing what to spend on, he says, find a mentor to consult with. "If you're making decisions, you'll feel better about them."

2. Hold marketing partners accountable.

All marketers have ideas, but not all deliver. "They say, 'Oops, you didn't get a sale from that $5,000 spread in the magazine? Well, good luck,'" Grinstead says. That's why he prefers arrangements that reward success. "Maybe you pay them this much for the basics, but if they attain a measurable outcome, you'll buy an additional amount of ads."

3. Learn as you go.

Many franchisees try to become experts at everything — but that's impossible, Grinstead says. For example, he hates accounting. "I learn enough to get by, to make sure we're not getting robbed blind," and then he hires people who are good at it, and commits to learning and improving along the way. "In truth," he says, "if you have the right mindset for this, you're never there."

Related: He Used To Train Horses. Now His Business Does $11 Million In Annual Revenue.


Want to Succeed? Increase Your Urgency! What makes Grinstead so successful? GYMGUYZ has an answer: It's momentum. "He moves faster. He talks faster. He doesn't complain. He doesn't make excuses," says GYMGUYZ founder Josh York. And that same energy keeps Grinstead pushing through tough times. "Just because you're buying a franchise doesn't mean it's going to be easy," York says. "You've got to push through those challenges. That's what pays well."

Kim Kavin was an editorial staffer at newspapers and magazines for a decade before going full-time freelance in 2003. She has written for The Washington Post, NBC’s ThinkThe Hill and more about the need to protect independent contractor careers. She co-founded the grassroots, nonpartisan, self-funded group Fight For Freelancers.

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