When Bridget Crowe started her business in Dillon one decade ago, she knew she was taking a calculated risk.
But this summer, when her small Pilates studio, Body Essentials, celebrated its 10-year anniversary, she took comfort she defied the odds of the average small-business lifespan.
“I’ve seen a couple others come and go,” Crowe said.
The first few years for a small business are like an infant mortality stage. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Labor Bureau, 65 percent of small businesses survive the first two years. But that figure quickly drops to only 44 percent by year four. The numbers continue to plummet for the years after that.
But the ways Crowe crafted her small-business model have allowed her to thrive. One of those was building long-term relationships with clients. She has retained some of her patrons for the entire decade she’s been in operation.
At age 67, Bonnie Ward, has been attending Crowe’s Pilates classes for nine years. She credits Crowe’s dedication to continuing education and keeping classes small as the keys to her long-term business success.
“Nowadays you can learn Pilates in a lot of places,” Ward said. “You can watch DVDs or take them at any recreation center. But after working with Crowe for so many years I can tell in about 30 seconds how well trained the instructor is. As students in the class we want to keep growing. She’s continued to grow as well.”
Through the years Crowe has continued to upgrade her own abilities and understanding of the exercises Joseph Pilates invented in his tiny New York apartment almost a century ago.
She’s earned the equivalent of a master’s degree from the Pilates training facility in Boulder.
“It’s about building a reputation,” Crowe said. “I’ve done that by being dedicated and continuing to expand on my understanding and practice of Pilates. And through that I think I’ve helped my clients stay committed.”
Her studio allows for small classes, which in turn allow time for individual attention. Clients don’t get lost in a swarm of mats or Pilates machines. The very nature and purpose of Pilates also plays well with the lifestyle of many Summit County residents.
Pilates centers on breathing, building core strength and stretching. The techniques improve an individual’s ability to take part in other physical activities.
“It’s made me feel more fit and given me a strong core,” Ward said. “I continue to row, ride my bike and do cross-country and downhill skiing. I don’t think I could still be doing all those things at my age without the benefit of taking Pilates two to three times per week.”
Crowe remains humble about her success. She credits a lot of it her to her dedication to classical Pilates.
“I’m always trying to continue my education,” she said. “In the past 15 months I finished my master’s program and continue to work with master trainers to improve my understanding.”
From the windows of her studio located near the waters of Lake Dillon, a pair of snow-streaked peaks appear as stable as her business and her devotion to constant improvement. She’s demonstrated for any small business to survive, the owner must possess an enthusiasm for his or her product and understand there is always more to learn.